Latvia receives first UH-60M Black Hawks

The Latvian Air Force received its first two Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters on December 11, when they arrived at Lielvārde Air Base in Rembate Parish, Ogre, via a US Air Force-operated Boeing C-17A Globemaster III.

Latvia purchased a total of four UH-60M Black Hawks through the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process in 2018. The deal was approved by both the US State Department and US Congress and is worth approximately €175m. The two newly delivered Black Hawks (serials 105 and 106) are the first to be delivered and are due to enter operational service before the new year. The final two UH-60Ms are scheduled to be delivered before the end of 2023.

In addition to the four helicopters, a relevant support and equipment package was also included in the sale to help introduce the Black Hawk into Latvian military service. The deal also included the provision of ten GE Aviation T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines (eight installed and two spares), along with the training of Latvian Air Force personnel in how to fly and maintain the Black Hawk. This process has been carried out in both Michigan and Spain since 2020.

One of the Latvian UH-60M Black Hawks is offloaded from A USAF C-17A Globemaster III
One of the Latvian Air Force's first two Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks (serial 106) is unloaded from a USAF-operated C-17A Globemaster III on December 11, 2022. Latvian Air Force

With a rationale to replace the Soviet-built Mil Mi-17-1V Hip-H and Mi-2R/S/U Hoplite helicopter fleets, the Black Hawks will be used to conduct troop transport, border security, search and rescue, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and anti-terrorism operations when they enter operational service.

The helicopters will perform this mission with the aid of a standard US Department of Defense (DOD) UH-60M configuration with additional systems onboard. These systems include Talon forward-looking infrared (FLIR) radars; AN/APX-123A Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponders and advanced communication systems embedded within the aircrafts avionics.