How Much Does a Black Hawk Helicopter Cost?
13 December 2022 | Updated on November 21, 2023
The Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is an iconic military helicopter of the United States military. Best known for its depiction in the Hollywood movie ‘Black Hawk Down,’ it is a twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter with four rotor blades. The aircraft replaces the Bell UH-1 (Huey) Iroquois as the US Army frontline tactical helicopter and is one of the longest-production military helicopters (1979 to date).
Did you know the Black Hawk helicopters are one of the most expensive utility helicopters in service with the United States military? And I’d bet you would want to know how much a Black Hawk cost. Well, prices of Black Hawk helicopters vary according to the model’s variant and role.
Continue reading to the end to learn more about how much a Black Hawk helicopter costs, the prices of the different Black Hawk variants, and how much it costs to keep a Black Hawk helicopter in the air.
How much does a Black Hawk cost new?
You don’t generally find Black Hawk sticker prices advertised on newspaper pages, nor can you ring the manufacturer for a test flight. However, you might be interested to know that the cost of acquiring a new Black Hawk ranges between $5.9 million to over $25 million for ‘special versions.’ Fully loaded variants of the Black Hawk sell for around $10 million.
If you must know, the price of a specially configured UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter can reach $25 million. On the other hand, you can buy several dozen UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with standard configuration for only $5.9 apiece. So, how much you pay for a Black Hawk helicopter depends on the variant that suits your specific needs and how many units you can afford.
Let’s look at the costs of the Army’s UH-60L and the Air Force’s HH-60G Pave Hawk variants of the UH-60 Black Hawk. Despite being developed from the same model, the UH-60L sells for $5.6 million (UH-60L), while the HH-60G has a $10.2 million price tag. The difference in the prices of these two variants is due primarily to each aircraft’s capabilities, parts requirements, and R&D specifications.
If you think the Black Hawk helicopter cost is way too high. Perhaps you should check out the Apache helicopter, which has a hefty price tag ranging from $60 to $130 million.
How much do Black Hawk helicopters variants cost?
Anyone who has ever flown in a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter knows it is an amazing and versatile helicopter with several unique features enhancing its multi-role capabilities. Those unique features add to the cost of the aircraft, and Black Hawk variants typically have huge price differences depending on their roles.
We have a list of several Balck Hawk helicopter variants and their cost.
1. Cost of the UH-60L Black Hawk
- Price: $6 million (estimated)
- Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 2 crew chiefs)
- Armament: 2x 7.62mm machine guns
- Speed: 172.6 mph
- Range: 368.3 miles
- Max Load: 2,640 lbs (1,197 kg) or 11 combat-ready troops.
In 1989, Sikorsky Aircraft developed the UH-60L variant with upgraded engines, gearbox, and flight control system. It is fitted with the more powerful GE T700-GE-701D engine, which increases the UH-60 L’s payload by 1,000 Ibs to 9,000 lbs and its range to 320 nautical miles. A unique feature of this aircraft is a new hover IR Suppression System that cools engine exhaust gasses during forward or stationary flight. Other notable UH-60L Black Hawk variant upgrades include wide chord rotor blades, an enhanced tail boom, vibration absorbers, and stabilator.
A UH-60L Black Hawk costs $6 million. For this amount, you get a decently equipped utility helicopter capable of medical, supply, and transport missions. Operators of the UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter include the United States Army, the Brazilian Army, and the Mexican Air Force.
2. Cost of the HH-60 Pave Hawk
- Price: $10.2 million
- Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 2 special mission aviators/gunners)
- Armament: 2 x 7.62mm machine guns or 2 x .50 caliber (12.7mm) heavy machine guns.
- Speed: 222 mph
- Range: 373 miles
When the air force needed to replace its aging fleet of HH-3E Jolly Green Giant utility helicopters. Sikorsky Aircraft took an HH-60 Black Hawk Army utility helicopter, upgraded its flight control system, installed the US Air Force PAVE (Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment) electronics and renamed it the HH-60 Pave Hawk. This $10 million bird is a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family and features distinct flight controls, radar, and communication systems from conventional UH-60 Black Hawk variants.
- Upgraded communication, navigation, and satellite systems.
- Forward-looking radar for low-level nighttime missions.
- Color weather radar.
- Anti-icing engine and rotor systems for all-weather capability.
- Retractable in-flight refueling probe.
- Folding rotor blades.
The new HH-60 Pave Hawks prices start at $10.2 million, and you get a versatile helicopter capable of day or night troop insertion missions, personnel recovery, and search and rescue. Peacetime uses of the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter include emergency medical evacuation, disaster relief operations, and counter-drug trafficking operations. The air forces of the United States and the Republic of Korea are the primary users of the Pave Hawk.
3. Cost of the HH-60M Black Hawk MEDEVAC
- Price: $25 million (estimated)
- Crew: 4 (2 pilots, 2 crew chiefs)
- Speed: 161.9 mph
- Range: 316.6 miles
- Max Hovering Out of Ground Effect (HOGE) Gross Weight: 21, 414 lbs (9,635.2 kg)
- Max Load: 6 Emergency Evacuation Litter (EEL), or 11 troops.
Although Sikorsky Aircraft built the HH-60M Black Hawk MEDEVAC to save lives, it created the ultimate military utility helicopter design. Developed from the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter as an Army medevac helicopter complete with an integrated medical evacuation mission equipment package (MEP) kit. Operators can repurpose the HH-60M Black Hawk to perform a variety of missions like cargo or troop transport, aerial resupply, search and rescue, wildfire suppression, and aerial surveillance.
The Sikorsky HH-60M MEDEVAC helicopter has upgraded engines and essential equipment, allowing it to perform its intended role effectively. These include,
- A purpose-built medical interior with an integrated electronically operated litter system for six patients.
- Onboard oxygen-generating unit for in-flight patient care.
- Plastic-sealed bubble windows create a sterile environment.
- An environmental control system includes an integrated ECG machine, suction machine, external electrical hoist, etc.
Developed primarily for the US Army, the HH-60M is operated by the US Navy and the United States Coast Guard. Other operators of the HH-60M include the Vermont National Guard and the South Dakota Army National Guard.
4. Cost of the Sikorsky VH-60N White Hawk
- Price: $10.6 million (1988)
- Crew: 3 or 4
- Speed: 182.9 mph
- Range: 1,379 miles
- Max Load: 2,645 lbs (1,200 kg) or 6 passengers.
The Sikorsky SH-60 White Hawk was designed for the most powerful man on earth. Conceived as an executive transport aircraft for the President of the United States of America, the Sikorsky VH-60N White Hawk is one of the most recognizable and the most photographed helicopter in the world. It was developed from the UH-60 Black Hawk and the SH-60 Seahawk of the US Navy for day/night and all-weather operations. The VH-60 White Hawk is equipped with a state-of-art self-contained navigation system Traffic Collision Avoidance System TCAS, CSFIR sensors, and GPS.
Since the SH-60 White Hawk has no weapons, it is fitted with military-grade countermeasures against missile attacks. Nine White Hawk airframes were built, and all aircraft are operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) in MCAF Quantico, Virginia.
5. Cost of the UH-60J Black Hawk
- Price: $14 million
- Crew: 3
- Armament: 1 × 7.62 mm (.30 in) Type 74 machine gun
- Speed: 165 mph
- Range: 363 miles
- Maximum takeoff weight: 9,750 kg (21,495 lb)
Designed primarily for export, the Sikorsky UH-60J Black Hawk helicopter is a search and rescue variant of the UH-60L that is license-built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for the Japanese Air Self-Defence Forces (JASDF). Both Sikorsky Aircraft and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries collaborated to design and produce the aircraft with key components license-built by Japanese manufacturers.
Special features include:
- External fuel tanks.
- External rescue winch.
- A FLIR turret in the nose.
- Bubble side windows for observation.
About forty UH-60J Black Hawk helicopter units are in service with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. Each unit costs about $14 million, and several upgrades were added to the Japanese-built Black Hawks over time.
Cost of the civilian Black Hawk
During the 1980s, Sikorsky Aircraft developed a civilian version of the UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopter for oil and gas offshore exploration. Introduced in 1998, the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter cost around $27 million, and it competed with European helicopters like the Aerospatiale/Eurocopter Super Puma.
Sikorsky Aircraft marketed the S-92 helicopter as a civilian Black Hawk, and the aircraft has similar flight controls and rotor systems to the UH-60 military versions. Sikorsky engineers modified the S-92 aluminum and composite fuselage to improve its flight stability and seating capacity. The S-92 search and rescue variants got a larger cabin door for better exit/entry.
How much does a decommissioned Black Hawk helicopter cost?
Decommissioned UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters are in high demand in the civilian utility helicopter industry. Although prices vary per aircraft year, variant, and flight hours, expect to pay between $3 million and $7 million for a non-military UH-60 Black Hawk in decent condition. An online listing for a restomod Sikorsky UH-60L with a 2007 manufacture date and 2,200 flight hours has an asking price of $5,995,000. You can have an older Black Hawk model for much less, and a UH-60A Black Hawk is listed for lease on JetLease for $3 million.
Since it was first released to the civilian market in 2014, the Black Hawk has proved to be a favorite among helicopter operators as the most reliable aircraft in the eight-thousand-pound lifting capacity class.
The most common civilian uses for non-military Black Hawk include
- Firefighting operations.
- Search and rescue.
- Disaster relief.
- Cargo transport.
- VIP passenger transport.
The General Services Administration (GSA), which handles all surplus goods for the US government, has sold one hundred and twelve UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters to civilian buyers, with several expected Black Hawk helicopter deliveries during the next few years.
How much does a Black Hawk helicopter cost to operate?
High operating costs are a significant disadvantage of military helicopters, but the UH-60 bucks the trend with lower hourly operating costs than other US Army attack and utility helicopters. For example, the UH-60 Black Hawk costs $3,116 per hour to operate despite being able to transport around a dozen troops into combat. In comparison, the CH-47 Chinook costs $4,600 per hour to fly, while the Boeing V-22 Osprey costs $11,000 per hour to fly.
The navalized MH-60R Seahawk variant is equipped with specialized radar and other equipment, thus its higher hourly operating cost of $14,555 per hour. The US Airforce’s HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter has the highest hourly operating costs of $24,475.
We hope you have a pretty good idea of how much does a Black Hawk helicopter cost. The price of a brand-new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter starts from $5.9 million and can reach $24 million for mission-specific variants. Civilian versions of the Black Hawk helicopter are more expensive, with an average price of $27 million. Whichever version of the Black Hawk helicopter you choose, you can be assured of owning a reliable and cost-effective multi-mission helicopter for all weather operations.