16th CAB upgrades Black Hawk helicopters
US Army, January 11, 2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. by Sgt. Adrianna Barnes - The 2-158th Assault Helicopter Battalion began fielding 30 new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, replacing the current UH-60L models, Jan 7, and is scheduled to finish receiving equipment sometime between late February and early March.
The new model UH-60M Black Hawk features a complete digital cockpit versus the previous analog cockpit, making it more user-friendly for aviators. The digital cockpit improves situational awareness between pilots and reduces workload within the aircraft, which allows aviators to focus more on battle tasks and supporting ground units.
“These upgrades are a part of the ongoing effort to modernize the 16th CAB. I had experience with the UH-60M when I was a battalion commander and the Army did a great job fielding this aircraft,” said Col. Rob Dickerson, 16th CAB commander.
Major upgrades include newly-added Multifunctional Display systems; an improved GPS navigation system; a multiband radio; autopilot; rotor brakes; and the ability for the aircraft to self-diagnose maintenance problems.
The new MFD system consolidates various control systems originally scattered throughout the cockpit into centralized display panels, making them more easily accessible. Information can now be quickly accessed by pilots from a single station.
“The MFD makes it is easier to retrieve information, monitor the aircraft systems and transition between the various display pages,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Eric Oleson, 2-158 AHB Black Hawk pilot. “It’s like a one-stop shop to retrieve desired information to safely operate the aircraft.”
Inputting routes and rerouting for new and changing missions can now be done at the touch of a screen. Bulky battlefield management equipment that was once operated off a knee pad is, also, integrated into the MFD and part of the cockpit’s basic functions.
The upgraded navigation system works off satellites and navigation chips integrated into the MFD. Operators can input routes and emergency points with more ease and flexibility, and change them as needed.
The new navigation system also features a moving map display that projects the aircraft’s current location onto the map and tracks its movement more accurately.
Before, pilots could plot their point on the map and the aircraft would then track how far and fast it moved in relation to that point. Pilots would then have to recalculate their location at different check points, such as bridges or other landmarks, to make up for any margin of error.
“The new navigation system is more accurate in tracking the aircraft’s exact location, especially during times when we lose satellite reception. You can also now input points on the moving map simply by pointing-and-clicking,” Oleson said.
Former Black Hawk models used up to five separate radios for communication purposes. The new UH-60M features a single, multiband radio that picks up on all the various bands and frequencies, and is managed through the MFD.
The new rotor brake quickly stops the rotation of the blades rather than letting them gradually slow to a halt. Applying a brake to the blades is especially helpful when conducting ship-board landing qualifications and expedited passenger loading.
The UH-60M has a built in vehicle health management system that is more accurate than its predecessors and saves man hours and money while performing maintenance tasks.
“It is a more user-friendly system to navigate and allows maintenance personnel to accomplish tasks quicker,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nick Sue, 2-158 AHB maintenance test pilot.
The new helicopter has the capability for the aircraft to self-diagnose problems based on parts wear and vibration data. It is more efficient and cost effective to only do services when a part is worn than to base maintenance primarily on time or mileage.
This is similar to how cars would typically get an oil change every 3,000 miles, but can now tell drivers when they need an oil change based on computers that detect engine use.
Before flying the new airframes, pilots will undergo a six-week training course that incorporates classroom instruction, simulated flight time and actual hands-on training in the UH-60M. In addition, mandated training for crew chiefs and maintenance personnel to help familiarize themselves with the new systems and job related requirements will be implemented.
Upon completion of training, soldiers of 2-158 AHB will continue to familiarize themselves for several months on the new systems in relation to battle tasks before integrating them into National Training Center rotations scheduled for later this year.
The aircraft upgrade is essential in preparing their soldiers for upcoming rotations at NTC, said Lt. Col. Bryan Hoff, 2-158 AHB commander.
“It’s important to get this generation of ‘Warhawks’ trained so the next generation of ‘Warhawks’ can focus on tactical missions,” Hoff said.
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US Army Aviation
16th CAB 16th Combat Aviation Brigade US Army Aviation
Lewis-McChord / Gray AAF