MH-60 Blackhawk Varients MH-60L with weather radar and FLIR

The Sikorsky MH-60 Blackhawk comes in three different varieties; the MH-60G (known as the Pave Hawk and used by the USAF Special Operations Wings), the MH-60L, and the MH-60K. The latter two variants are used by the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The Pave Hawk and MH-60L were both modifications of UH-60 variants already serving. The MH-60K is the first to be designed from the start for SOA duties.


The first special operations Blackhawk was the MH-60A, a standard UH-60 with many improvements. They were among the first to be equipped with the AAQ-16 FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) sensor and ALQ-144 "Disco Light" IR jammer. All the original A models also received auxiliary fuel tanks, IR suppressive exhausts, SATCOM (Satellite Communication), radar warning receivers, and M-134 7.62mm Miniguns.

In the late 1980s, a new version, called the MH-60L was introduced. It was to be the "low end" of a system; the high end being the then unproduced MH-60K. The MH-60L was only about halfway through it's operational evaluation when Iraq invaded Kuwait. The upgrade process was accelerated and several of the L models were able to serve in Desert Shield and Storm alongside the older MH-60A models.

MH-60Ls received upgraded electronics such as a color weather radar, and the capability to carry the Hellfire missile. Kevlar ballistic armor has been added for increased crew protection. A new folding tail and stabilator were added to ease shipboard use. At least ten are slated to receive in-flight refueling probes to further increase their range.

The MH-60K is the current top-of-the-line SOA medium helicopter. It was designed with much input from actual 160th pilots. The MH-60K features a fully integrated NVG compatible glass cockpit. It can carry twelve soldiers over 750 miles without refueling. A mission management system is also part of the aircraft's equipment. Electronic sensors and counter measures have also been added and improved to increase the aircraft's effectiveness and ability to survive the battlefield.

USAF Pave Hawks

The MH-60G is the United States Air Force's medium range special operations helicopter. Between eight and ten soldiers can be carried in nearly all weather to a range of 445. This range can be increased with the use of in-flight refueling through the refueling probe mounted on the front of the aircraft.

The Pave Hawk is armed with two 7.62mm miniguns and can also be armed with two 50 caliber heavy machine guns mounted in the cargo bay doors. The ESSS (External Stores Support System) can also be carried, allowing the mounting of additinal fuel tanks, rocket pods, or hellfire missles (although they are probably never used in this capacity).

USAF Fact sheet