Washington, D.C. – House and Senate negotiators will need to determine whether to include money to repair a damaged MH-60M Black Hawk within this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.
Seven members of the U.S. Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) were injured in 2015 when a MH-60M crash-landed on the U.S. Naval Ship Red Cloud, 20 miles off Okinawa, Japan.
The MH-60M is a highly specialized variant of the Sikorsky S-60 flown exclusively by the 160th SOAR.
The House version of bill includes $25 million specially marked for Special Operations Command to upgrade and repair the helicopter.
Although the president’s budget request asked for $6.4 million to repair the helicopter, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees reported that the aircraft was a total loss. It therefore increased its authorization for SOCOM to purchase a new MH-60M and maintain its 72 aircraft fleet.
The bills also authorize money to extend the service life of the Navy’s variants of the Black Hawk helicopters, the MH-60R and MH-60s. The House bill recommends $54.3 million to extend the lives of both variants until 2023, whereas the Senate bill recommends $61.18 million.
Congressional negotiators on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees continue to hammer out the details of the NDAA – likely following Thanksgiving recess. Only once agreement is reached will the final provisions – including the fate of the Black Hawk helicopters – will become clear.
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.