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Army Falls Short in Training of Black Hawk Helo Pilots: Pentagon IG

The Pentagon Inspector General's office has found shortfalls in the funding and training of pilots for the latest version of the H-60 Black Hawk helicopter (also called the UH-60) that began being introduced into the Army's fleet in 2005.

"The Army did not provide adequate funding and training for H-60 pilots on the new equipment," according to the IG's audit released last week titled "Training and Airframe Evaluations for the H-60 Black Hawk Helicopter."

"This occurred because Army officials did not agree which Army organization was responsible for funding and conducting H-60 new equipment training," the audit said.

In addition, the audit found that "the Army will need $152.9 million more than it has budgeted to provide new equipment training for a total of 1,390 H-60 pilots from Fiscal Year 2018 through FY 2035."

The 30-page IG's report also said that "U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command officials did not effectively manage airframe condition evaluations for the H-60 fleet."

The Army generally concurred with the findings and recommendations of the audit. Then-Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Dan Allyn, "agreed with our recommendation to provide future training capacity for new equipment training to all pilots on UH 60M and UH 60V helicopters," the IG's report said.

Allyn also "stated that the Army will provide additional resources for H-60 training if institutional training cannot accommodate future training needs." Last month, Allyn retired and was replaced as Army Vice Chief of Staff by Gen. James C. McConville.

The dual-pilot, twin-engine, Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk is the Army's primary tactical transport helicopter and entered service in 1979.

The "A" model of the Black Hawk was designed to carry 11 combat troops in addition to a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot, crew chief) and was intended to serve in utility, air assault, medevac, command and control, and reconnaissance roles. The Army began converting Black Hawks to the medevac role in 1981.

The Army's current Black Hawk fleet consists of three models -- the H-60A, H-60L, and H-60M helicopters. "The H-60M helicopter is the newest helicopter in the H-60 fleet with a digital cockpit and autopilot capabilities," and the Army also is developing the H-60V model by upgrading the H-60L analog cockpit to a digital cockpit, the audit said.

"The H-60V cockpits are expected to be visually identical to the H-60M cockpits and allow an H-60M pilot to fly an H-60V helicopter with limited additional training," the audit said.

According to Army officials, the upgraded fleet will have a total of 2,135 H-60s consisting of 1,375 H-60M helicopters and 760 H-60V helicopters by FY 2035," the audit said.

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