How Much is a Blackhawk, Part 2

One of the first posts I wrote was to try and debunk the popular myth that a Blackhawk, available of the shelf of course, could be had for £5m each. Using information from a sale to Taiwan the number was actually £32m because this included things like engines, avionic upgrades, sled defence equipment and logistics support.

Just to follow that 2010 post up is another similar Foreign Militay Sale notification from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, this time to Qatar.

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 – The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on June 12 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Qatar of 12 UH-60M BLACK HAWK Utility Helicopters, 26 T700-GE-701D Engines (24 installed and 2 spares), 15 AN/AAR-57 V(7) Common Missile Warning Systems, 15 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, 15 AN/APR-39A(V)4 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, 26 M240H Machine Guns, and 26 AN/AVS-6 Night Vision Goggles. The estimated cost is $1.112 billion.

The Government of Qatar has requested a possible sale of 12 UH-60M BLACK HAWK Utility Helicopters, 26 T700-GE-701D Engines (24 installed and 2 spares), 15 AN/AAR-57 V(7) Common Missile Warning Systems, 15 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets, 15 AN/APR-39A(V)4 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, 26 M240H Machine Guns, and 26 AN/AVS-6 Night Vision Goggles. Also included are M206 infrared countermeasure flares, M211 and M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions (AIRCM) flares, M134D-H Machine Guns, system integration and air worthiness certification, simulators, generators, transportation, wheeled vehicles and organization equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $1.112 billion.

The logistics support element is pretty heavy but it still provides a useful guide to the true cost of introducing such aircraft.

The request is part of a competition between the Blackhawk/Seahawk and NH90 for Qatari forces.

Back to the question, a swift bit of maths and the cost per aircraft (with all the optional extras and support package) is;

£58.5 million

 

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wf
wf
June 15, 2012 9:16 pm

How much was the NH90? As you say, it’s entirely possible that support costs for the next 20 years may be folded in here. Without the costs for the NH90, we really cannot compare anything and do a differential analysis

jim30
jim30
June 15, 2012 9:39 pm

As ever, the truth is in the detail. Does qatar already operate the type, as otherwise real costs are likely to be even higher still.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 15, 2012 10:08 pm

DID comes in at about half of that number (2010):
“In September 2010, required DSCA arms sale notifications announced a possible Swedish buy of up to 15 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, plus side items like engines, defensive systems, and support, for up to $546 million. Their mission? Combat Search And Rescue & MEDEVAC missions in Afghanistan.”

Also, should we factor in that an NH90 carries 6 more troops than the UH-60A/L/M and has double the range of UH-60A/L …enough for how much price differential to be justified?
– in addition NH90 has a ramp for rapid deployment of troops; hence better overall survivability (and you can take ATVs if you are dropped behind the enemy lines)

Lewis
Lewis
June 15, 2012 11:20 pm

@jim30

They don’t appear to. Looks like the Blackhawk is to replace their 12 Westland Commando. But it sounds like most of the costs are already included in that package (as they seem to be getting the US to do everything!)

Is it usual (not including the MOD!) to only have 2 spare engines?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
June 16, 2012 8:31 am

This “sounds like most of the costs are already included in that package (as they seem to be getting the US to do everything!)” is the reason why I would tread carefully with all price examples drawn from deals for the Arabian peninsula
– there tends to be a lot of more generic capability building “baked in”

Brian
Brian
June 16, 2012 4:07 pm

The Blackhawk looks better value than the NH90 if Australian experience with the latter is anything to go by. Perhaps the Qataris will spec T700s for their NH90s like the Italians to avoid the problem.

aussie Johnno
aussie Johnno
June 17, 2012 7:07 am

Brian, the NH90 appears to be slowly coming good but its introduction to service is painfully slow. Once the development bugs are beaten out it looks like it will turn into a good logistics and transport helicopter and the sea trials have gone quite well.
BUT, the special forces world hate it because of the way it flies. Specifically it cannot come close to the Blackhawk in droppping into a confined LZ. With the Blackhawk you can drop the tail and use the main rotor to break to a halt and just drop in. The NH90 has to establish a hover and then come in. The differnce in how long you are exposed up close to ground fire is anough to be an issue. It will be interesting to see if the SAS is told to take it and like it, or whether they might get their hands on some of existing CH-47D+’s currently due to be sold when the (7)new Ch-47F on order are delivered.
The other ongoing complaint re the NH90 (and the Tiger) is that logistics pipe to Eurocopter is slow and unresponsive.

Wibble
Wibble
June 20, 2012 12:56 pm

The unit costs of an aircraft is almost irrelevant as the main costs over the lifetime of an aircraft are in the spares and engineer support. In fact the aircraft are often cheaper hence why the Canadians bought the unused prototype/trial Merlins off the USMC as it was quicker and cheaper than getting spares out of AW, well mainly the A part of AW.

The other issue with buying another countries bit of kit is that the other country may operate it differently. This is particularly important with helicopters as, for example, some militaries will not even attempt to land them in dust or in the snow so have no need to procure aircraft that are designed with that in mind. Then there is simple stuff like radios (as with the UK C17s) and DAS that may then need to be bought from a different contractor as the equipment you use wont fit or is not compatible due to voltage, frequencies etc adding initial and long term costs (adding in training costs too).

Then you have complete and utter random and laughable situations like with the Merlin Mk 3a which for unknown reasons is about 70% different to the Merlin Mk3 but with only about 10% of the differences making any sense (it was designed for a different purpose). The commercial logic for AW making it so different and then unable to utilities production lines, spares, trails/research and experience with the Mk3 is baffling. Car manufactures having been making multiple variations of the same car on the same production lines for years and regularly share platforms, engines and other components to keep costs down but AW clearly know better.

In short what it says on the label is rarely what you get and even more rarely what you pay for.