Lockheed Martin UK launches Team Black Hawk for British New Medium Helicopter requirement

During the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition on September 12 in London, Lockheed Martin made a significant announcement regarding its involvement in the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirement. The aerospace giant unveiled its strategy, which included a consortium of UK partners and a compelling case for adopting the Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter as a replacement for the UK's aging mixed medium helicopter fleet. This revelation coincided with Lockheed Martin and its competitors eagerly anticipating the formal issuance of the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) by the MoD.

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DSEI 2023 Lockheed Martin UK launches Team Black Hawk for British New Medium Helicopter requirement Lockheed Martin estimates that nearly 40% of the total Black Hawk production and assembly would take place within the UK  (Picture source: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin estimates that nearly 40% of the total Black Hawk production and assembly would take place within the UK. This undertaking was projected to generate an average of 660 jobs annually between 2025 and 2030. Additionally, the plan was poised to create export opportunities worth approximately £470 million for UK partners specializing in the manufacturing of sub-systems and components over the next decade. This amount accounted for 40% of the Total Programme Value, based on expected export prospects to Black Hawk customers. Lockheed Martin's assessment also included long-term fleet sustainment, promising to support approximately 320 jobs annually for many years to come, as the UK Black Hawk fleet remained in active service. The commitment to continuous modernization and the robust support of the U.S. Army would ensure the Black Hawk's operational effectiveness well into the 2070s.

Paul Livingston, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK, stated that "The newest generation of the Black Hawk is proven, versatile, and ready now. It’s not only the right choice for UK Defence, it’s the right choice for UK industry and it will create a generation of high-skilled jobs here in Britain."

Furthermore, participation in the Black Hawk program was expected to open doors for the UK industry to engage in the development and production of Lockheed Martin's next-generation rotorcraft solutions, potentially offering a 45-year pipeline of work and export opportunities for UK companies.

As a part of the Team Black Hawk initiative, Lockheed Martin formally entered into a teaming agreement with StandardAero, based in Gosport. StandardAero would serve as Team Black Hawk's partner for aircraft assembly, testing, delivery, maintenance, and integration of UK-unique equipment and systems. This partnership was seen as a boost to the economically deprived Gosport region, as it would bring in highly skilled jobs.

StandardAero in Gosport was designated as the hub for Black Hawk activities in the UK. In collaboration with Lockheed Martin, along with partners such as Martin-Baker Aircraft Company in Denham, Curtiss-Wright in Christchurch, Chelton in Marlow, Inzspire in Lincoln, C3iA Solutions in Poole, Nova Systems in Filton, and Ascent Flight Training & CAE at RAF Benson, this initiative was expected to generate 660 high-skilled jobs and ensure decades of UK workshare throughout the lifecycle of the UK Black Hawk. The UK Black Hawk would be assembled in accordance with MoD specifications by a consortium of industrial partners, with StandardAero playing a pivotal role. Lockheed Martin conducted a thorough evaluation of potential partners for the assembly aspect of the Black Hawk in the UK and determined that StandardAero possessed the most experience and capability for the task.

With a presence in 35 nations, including NATO member states, the Black Hawk had accumulated an impressive 15 million flight hours, with five million of those hours logged in combat conditions. The UK stood to benefit from its interoperability with allied services. With over 5,000 Black Hawks delivered globally, the extensive network of spare parts and services, combined with Lockheed Martin's industry plans for sustainment in the UK, would position the UK to leverage a robust supply chain.