Israel Marks 40 Years of Blackhawk Operations
How many countries use Blackhawk Helicopters? How do you prepare a helicopter for the Pope's arrival? What do Israeli Blackhawk pilots complain about? 40 years after its initial production, the IAF website gives you five facts you didn’t know about one of the world's leading combat helicopters.
It all began in the year of 1972. Following the Vietnam War, the U.S Army embarked on a search for an advanced and reliable combat helicopter that would be able to carry heavy weights and be used long-term. Sikorsky industries was up for the challenge and began developing a new helicopter. Seven years later, the Blackhawk joined the American battle lines. Ever since, the helicopter has found its way into various countries, Israel being one of them, which even converted its name into Hebrew- Yanshuf (owl). Four decades since it was first manufactured, the Blackhawk is still one of the world's leading combat helicopters.
Think you've heard it all before? We offer you five lesser-known facts about the Blackhawk
1)How do you say Blackhawk in Japanese?
The veteran combat helicopter has been in the service of no less than 21 countries: Brazil, Philippines, Japan and Austria are just a segment of the long list. Apparently, the Blackhawk has even reached Brunei- a small country somewhere in the East with a population of less than half a million.
2)Under the Sea
The U.S Navy uses a unique Blackhawk model which was manufactured especially for its specific missions. The Seahawk is the naval model of the helicopter which was redesigned and became the leading force of the United States against underwater threats. The Seahawk is capable of landing on aircraft carriers, launching missiles such as the hellfire and even hitting submarines.
3) VIP Flights
Generals and Commanders in Chief are not the only ones to have experienced the thrill of flying on a Blackhawk throughout the years. The helicopters have carried the head of the FBI and the President of the United States, Head of Nuclear Energy and the UN Secretary General. One of the important people who got to fly on the Blackhawk was the Pope John Paul II, who visited Israel in the year of 2000. The lucky helicopter that got to fly the Pope was covered in red fabrics and new linings. Until today you can see it amongst its Blackhawk brothers, still proud in its festive attire.
4) Its Getting Hot in Here
It has already become a usual joke between the members of the combat helicopter Squadron, a joke that cannot be told anymore during reunion nights. There is no pilot who was able to doge the drops of sweats on the forehead, and daydreams of a lighter suit are definitely on their minds. It is interesting how all these people have had to deal with the fact that there is absolutely no air-conditioning in the Blackhawk.
5) Hundreds of Rescues
After the Second Lebanon War, both of the Blackhawk squadrons received a special award: a citation from the IDF's Chief of General Staff. Each of the Squadrons, "The Rolling Sword" and "The Southern Bells" operated during the war and performed more than 100 rescues, most in the battle field, while under attack. "As long as we have you, we are capable of confronting any operation and challenge", said the previous IDF Chief of General Staff to the fighters.
Source: Israel air Force; issued June 4, 2012
Photo: Israeli Blackhawk Operation Illustration (HH/MH-60G PAVE HAWK)