This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
The U.S. Army's much-anticipated fly-by-wire Black Hawk UH-60M Upgrade program may be halted after developmental testing so that a pressing need for more baseline M models can be filled.
Brig. Gen. William Crosby, head of the Army's program executive office for aviation, said Dec. 11 he has recommended the M Upgrade program not proceed to procurement yet. Crosby said he is responding to a request from Maj. Gen. James Barclay, chief of army aviation, for more baseline M helicopters.
Barclay told Crosby, "I need Black Hawks. I know we spent money doing this [upgrade], but the situation has changed from when we started." The baseline M is "not quite as good as the fly-by-wire aircraft," Crosby said. "But [Barclay] took an appetite suppressant and said the [baseline] M is good enough."
The upgrade program "has been very successful," Crosby said. The M upgrade program, which will add fly-by-wire, a common avionics architecture system (CAAS) cockpit, composite tail cone and full authority digital engine control (FADEC) to the platform, is in flight development testing in Florida.
Crosby said he does not want to halt current testing, but stop before the next step -- operational test. Outright termination of the upgrade program "would cost me more than to finish test," Crosby said, noting there are benefits to finishing this stage of flight testing.
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