FORT MCCOY, Wis.- An aircrew operated a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter at the Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport during training operations Dec. 16, 2019, at Fort McCoy.

The UH-60 Blackhawk has been the Army's front line utility helicopter for the past 40 years, and it shows no signs of letting up, said service officials at Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

The helicopter is a regular fixture every year at Fort McCoy, Wis., particularly during major exercises such as the Combat Support Training Exercise.

Blackhawk crews with the 1st Battalion, 147th Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard in Madison, for example, support a wide variety of Guard and Reserve training on the post regularly.

Now in its fourth decade of service, the Blackhawk was developed as a result of the Army's requirement in 1972 for a simple, robust, and reliable utility helicopter system to satisfy projected air-mobile requirements around the globe.

Named after Native American war chief and leader of the Sauk tribe in the Midwest, Blackhawk, the first UH-60A was accepted by the Army in 1978 and entered service in 1979 when it was delivered to aviation components of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.

Since that time, the Blackhawk has accumulated more than 9 million total fleet hours and has supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed, including Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East.

Over the years, the helicopter has been modified and upgraded to support evolving missions and roles, including mine laying, medical evacuation, and special operations.

Today, the Army continues to integrate emerging technology enhancements into the Black Hawk fleet to increase the performance, reliability, availability, and maintainability of the platform through addition of technologies such as the integration of the improved turbine engine; upgrades to the airframe, including an improved troop seat for additional crash-worthiness; and a lightweight, composite all-moving tail.

(The Army Program Executive Office for Aviation contributed to this article.)