SLOVAKIA’S FIRST two Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks have arrived in the country after being shipped by sea from the USA. The helicopters, serials 7639 and 7640, were formally handed-over to the Slovak Air Force by the country’s Minister of Defence, Peter Gajdoš, during a ceremony at Prešov Air Base on August 3. They will be operated by the ‘Lt Col Ján Ambruš’ Vrtulníkové Krídlo (Helicopter Wing) at Prešov.
After arriving on a ship at the port of Bremerhaven, Germany, on July 6 they were flown from there to Prešov by combined Slovak-US crews. A total of nine UH-60Ms are being acquired by Slovakia through a Foreign Military Sales deal. Sikorsky was awarded a $46,142,640 contract for the first four of these helicopters on September 3, 2015. The remaining two from this initial order will arrived in the country before the year-end. The other five are scheduled for delivery in 2019. In total, the order for the nine helicopters is valued at $261 million.
The Defence Minister said that they will be used for training, support to Land Forces and Special Operations Forces, together with domestic crisis management. To date, four fully trained Slovak aircrews are available for the UH-60Ms, while more are undergoing training, with six expected to have completed conversion to the type by the end of 2017.
The contract covers initial logistics support, including delivery of ground support equipment, plus a spares package for a period of two years. An option to arm the helicopters is still under consideration as part of the Long-Term Defence Development Plan.