Army Spends $84M Fixing Mexico’s Bullet-Ridden Black Hawks

(US Army official image)

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The Army awarded Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation $84 million to fix Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday. Sikorsky, which was acquired by Lockheed Martin in November, 2015, is tasked with bringing them up to “full operational capability” by April 2019.

The contract announcement does not specify how many helicopters will be retrofitted, or what restorations will need to be done, but at least one of Mexico’s Black Hawks was damaged in the ongoing, U.S.-backed war on the cartels. One of the Navy’s Black Hawks was shot seven times during an attack from a drug cartel on July 5, 2015. The Navy crew saw a convoy of armed men and were fired upon when they dropped altitude to investigate.

No soldiers were killed in the attack, but a video posted on the Mexican Secretariat of the Navy’s YouTube page shows the bullet holes brought down the helicopter.

In April, the Army ordered 7 brand new helicopters to sell to Mexico. Mexico has had a small fleet of  Black Hawks since the 1990s, but recently increased weapons purchases from the U.S. Since 2014, Mexico has ordered nearly 40 Black Hawks from the Army. They maintain a fleet for their Navy and police force, and have a training base run by Sikorsky.

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Thomas Phippen