The Army's program to bring a modern digital cockpit to the Black Hawk helicopter hit another milestone July 9 when it began Limited User Test with two prototype aircraft at Redstone Arsenal.

Soldiers from the 82d Airborne Division flew multiple day, night and Night Vision Goggle missions as well as simulated instrument flight on the Utility Helicopter 60V during the event. All missions simulate a realistic operational environment and gain valuable feedback from Soldiers on the new capabilities the UH-60V provides. The purpose of the test is to ensure the UH-60V will meet the operational expectations of Army aviators.

The Black Hawk is the Army's utility tactical transport helicopter that provides air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control and special operations support to combat, stability and support operations. The UH-60V digital cockpit upgrade plans to put a modern, digital cockpit in the UH-60L during recapitalization of the UH-60L aircraft at Corpus Christi Army Depot. Key capabilities include an integrated GPS navigation receiver and open system, FACE aligned software which will allow the Army to implement new capabilities cheaper and faster.

The Program Executive Office for Aviation used AMRDEC's Prototype Integration Facility to develop the cockpit upgrade which began in July 2014 and conducted the first UH-60V flight in January 2017.

"Compared to the UH-60L, the UH-60V will provide a significant operation upgrade to our Army Aviators," said Lt. Col. Andrew Duus, PEO Aviation's UH-60V Product Manager.

The older UH-60L cockpit still operates with analog gauges and lacks a digitized, integrated situational awareness capability, which exists in every other Army rotary wing platform today.

"The UH-60V replaces the analog gauges with multi-functional displays which allow for a moving map, improved situational awareness and reduced pilot workload," Duus added.

This first operational test of the UH-60V is being conducted by Operational Test Command out of Ft. Hood, Texas at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. OTC's assessment of the UH-60V will provide the key critical piece of information to Brig. Gen. Thomas Todd, Program Executive Officer for Aviation and the Milestone Decision Authority, before the Milestone C production decision scheduled for December 2018.