A man walks past the first Black Hawk S-70i helicopter at PZL Mielec plant in Mielec, March 11, 2010
The first Black Hawk S-70i helicopter was manufactured in Poland. This is first time this aircraft was ever produced outside the United States, Bulgarian media reported on March 15 2010.
Sikorsky Aircraft, a major US defence contractor, purchased the Polish factory PZL Mielec in 2007, which at the time was in derelict condition, but after extensive reformation and overhaul, the factory rolled out the first combat helicopter.
Black Hawks S-70i cost between $12 and 14 million and after it completes trials in the US, it will be offered on the market. The second helicopter should be completed by the autumn of 2010, the report says.
In two years' time, the company is hoping to produce up to 20 aircraft annually.
There are currently 2000 people employed at PZL Mielec, while Sikorsky employed some 17 000 people worldwide, including factories in Turkey and the Czech Republic.
Black Hawk is a four-bladed, twin-engine, medium-lift utility helicopter a design which dates back to 1972. The Army designated the prototype as the YUH-60A and selected the Black Hawk as the winner of the program in 1976, after a fly-off competition with the Boeing Vertol YUH-61. Black Hawk entered service with the US Army in 1979, replacing the UH-1 Iroquois as the new generation tactical transport helicopter.
Sikorsky also produces SH-60 or the Seahawk, as well as experimental types like the Sikorsky S-72 X-Wing. Sikorsky has supplied the helicopter for the President of the United States since 1957. Sikorsky's VH-3) and VH-60 currently perform this role.
Mielec was built in 1939, as a division of the biggest Polish aviation works PZL in Warsaw (Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze - State Aviation Works).
In October 1998, a state factory WSK PZL-Mielec was converted into a state-owned company Polskie Zakłady Lotnicze (Polish Aviation Works), or PZL Mielec.
On March 16, 2007 the PZL Mielec was bought by the Sikorsky Aircraft.