WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine (OAM) recently took delivery of its third operational Sikorsky UH-60L model helicopter as part of a recapitalization effort. CBP is in the process of extending the life of its aircraft by converting select UH-60A model helicopters to the UH-60L model. The helicopter will initially be based in Tucson, Ariz.
This effort is part of the interagency agreement CBP signed with the U.S. Army Utility Helicopter Program Office in 2008 to convert the helicopters. The agreement reduces program development time and the need for additional resources not readily available to CBP. OAM sought the expertise of the U.S. Army as it is currently converting several hundred of its UH-60As to UH-60Ls at a rate of more than 50 per year.
Upgrades will be made to the airframes, propulsion systems and cockpit components and include new digitized navigation as well as revised rotor and driveshaft assemblies that will increase operating capability. These upgrades will prolong the life of each aircraft by 15 to 18 years and reduce annual maintenance costs by as much as 37 percent. Airframe structure maintenance will be performed at the depot level also extending the UH-60L’s projected life expectancy. The recapitalization also enhances equipment availability and support for the border security mission.
Black Hawks are converted by the Corpus Christi Army Depot and then undergo mission equipment outfitting at the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development Engineering Center, Prototype Integration Facility in Huntsville, Ala. Delivery of the next L model is expected in fall 2014. The next funded UH-60 conversion is expected to be completed during fiscal year 2016.