Sikorsky receives contract to deliver two S-70i™ Black Hawk helicopters to the Los Angeles County fire department

Aircraft will be modified to Firehawk™ configuration for aerial firefighting and multi-role missions

September 7, 2017 Photo(s): By Trent Bell
A L.A. County Sikorsky S-70 Firehawk helicopter demonstrates water suppression during a 2013 airshow

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, received a contract from the County of Los Angeles for two S-70i™ Black Hawk helicopters in a baseline configuration. Sikorsky is assembling the two new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters for delivery to L.A. County in December 2017.

Compared to the S-70A model, the S-70i aircraft will feature wide chord rotor blades for enhanced lift, a stronger airframe, a digital glass cockpit with flight management system for enhanced situation awareness, and a cockpit voice and flight data recorder. An Integrated Vehicle Health Management system will monitor the aircraft's operational health.

In addition to aerial firefighting, a Firehawk helicopter also performs command and control of other firefighting aircraft, EMS transport, search and rescue, and logistic support. Thomas Ewald, assistant fire chief of L.A. County's Air and Wildland Division, said "nothing close compares with the Firehawk. No other aircraft does all five missions as well."

Ewald added: "The Firehawk has repeatedly proven its reliability and ruggedness. The stresses we place on the aircraft when we take on and then aggressively release 8,000 pounds of water multiple times a day are far more than what its military variant might do in normal operations at maximum gross weight. Like a good pick-up truck, we beat it up and it keeps coming back for more."

"The new and more capable S-70i Black Hawk helicopters will provide L.A. County and the fire department with the most effective firefighting and multi-mission aircraft available, said Dan Schultz, president of Sikorsky. "We thank L.A. County for its continued confidence in Sikorsky and the Black Hawk helicopter, and for our close collaboration that has resulted in advances in aerial firefighting. We offer our congratulations to the courageous firefighters, aircrews and maintainers who employ this unique capability for the highest ideal of public service."

Once modified by a specialist outfitter in 2018 with a 1,000-gallon (3,785-liter) water tank, extended landing gear, single pilot cockpit layout and a medically-equipped interior, the new aircraft will increase to five the L.A. County Fire Department's fleet of Firehawk™ multi-role helicopters.

"This acquisition supplements our county's potent aerial firefighting arsenal and our ability to knock down wildfires to protect life and property," said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. "The Firehawk provides a very effective initial attack platform to battle fires along with multi-mission capability for alternate needs including EMS and search and rescue."

Sikorsky supports the critical mission of the L.A. Country fire department with an all new airframe of the S-70i Black Hawk aircraft, which are available direct from Sikorsky in the U.S. Customers can order aircraft with mission sets and features customized to specific preferences. The Los Angeles County Fire Department was the first municipal organization to purchase the Firehawk in December 2000.