United Rotorcraft expands partnership with PZL Mielec

United Rotorcraft Press Release | September 13, 2021

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 12 seconds.

United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation, is excited to grow its partnership with PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company, which manufactures the S-70 Black Hawk helicopter. When equipped by United Rotorcraft with a water tank system, custom cabin interior, and cockpit controls, the resulting Firehawk aircraft has become a symbol of aerial firefighting excellence in the United States.

A Cal Fire Hawk demonstrates its ability to drop a concentrated plume of water from its 3,785-liter (1,000-gallon) external water tank. United Rotorcraft Photo

“United Rotorcraft has the highest confidence in the workforce at PZL Mielec to produce and deliver the high-performance S-70 helicopter,” said United Rotorcraft President Larry Alexandre. “As the only Firehawk completion center approved by Sikorsky, United Rotorcraft can confirm that fire fighters in California are delighted with the craftsmanship of their S-70 aircraft and the ability to safely and efficiently attack wildfires.”

On Aug. 26, United Rotorcraft announced a contract award to Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, for five S-70 Black Hawk aircraft. PZL Mielec will deliver all five aircraft to United Rotorcraft from early 2022 to mid-2023. United Rotorcraft anticipates all five will become Firehawk aircraft. To date, the company has a confirmed order to modify one of the five aircraft for aerial firefighting — to the State of Colorado.

Alexandre said there is significant interest by government agencies in the Western United States and internationally for the Firehawk capability. “In anticipation of future orders and knowing there is an urgent need to deliver this capability quickly, United Rotorcraft is taking the unusual step of contracting with Sikorsky for five S-70 aircraft when only one aircraft has been ordered,” he said.

Since 2019, United Rotorcraft has modified and delivered 10 Polish-built S-70 aircraft to California firefighters. Two of these Firehawk aircraft are serving with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, seven with the State of California (Cal Fire), and one with the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue department. Four more S-70 aircraft from Poland are in various stages of Firehawk modification at the United Rotorcraft facility near Denver, Colorado. The twelfth and final aircraft ordered by Cal Fire is on the PZL Mielec Black Hawk production line.

“The employees at PZL Mielec take great satisfaction in knowing that their efforts to build S-70 aircraft for wildland firefighting are saving lives, and protecting property and forestry,” said Janusz Zakręcki, PZL Mielec president and general director. “The military pedigree of the Black Hawk platform is ideal for the task of aggressively attacking wildfires. We thank United Rotorcraft and Sikorsky for their collaborative work with California fire departments to produce yet another outstanding mission capability for the multi-role Black Hawk helicopter.”

United Rotorcraft adds a 3,785-liter (1,000-gallon) external water tank to the belly of the S-70 aircraft, an extended landing gear to accommodate the tank, and a retractable snorkel than can refill the tank in less than one minute. Other modifications can include a rescue hoist, seating to transport up to 12 fully equipped ground firefighters, and medical equipment.

This press release was prepared and distributed by United Rotorcraft.

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