By Helicopters Staff
During last week’s MSPO International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce, Poland, PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company, displayed an S-70i Armed Black Hawk helicopter fitted with a single-station external stores pylon. Designed at PZL Mielec as a lighter weight, lower cost alternative to currently fielded dual-station external wings, Lockheed Martin explains a single-station pylon attached to one or both sides of the aircraft will be compatible with the advanced weapon system that allows Black Hawk pilot gunners to support battlefield operations using forward firing guns, rockets and air-to-ground missiles.
PZL Mielec expects to begin airworthiness flight testing of the prototype pylon design in 2020. “We’re developing the single-station pylon in response to requests by militaries across Europe, Latin America and Asia for a battlefield-support helicopter that can be armed for different types of missions that may not always need four weapons stations,” said Janusz Zakręcki, president and general director of PZL Mielec. “Operators can arm the aircraft for suppressive fire, surveillance, armed reconnaissance, armed escort and air assault missions, and still carry out other utility roles whenever pylons and stores must remain on the aircraft.”
Lockheed Martin explains, that a quarter the cost and weight of a dual-station wing, a pylon can be removed or attached by two people in 15 minutes, producing less drag during flight and offering a wider field of fire to window or door gunners. It also opens more space to hoist a litter into the aircraft while in a hover.
For large targets, a pylon will be able to carry HELLFIRE or Spike air-to-ground missile launchers. A pylon also can extend aircraft range with an 80-gallon external fuel tank.
As a complementary option for the S-70i / S-70M Armed Black Hawk with dual-station wings, Lockheed Martin explains the single station pylon will integrate with the aircraft’s weapons management system that calculates the range and complex ballistics required for pilot gunners to engage targets with high accuracy and reliability from stand-off distances during day and night operations.