Unitech Composites, a division of Unitech Aerospace, announced that they will provide its Lightweight Armament Support Structure (LASS) weapons pylons for the UH-60A Black Hawks that the United States is supplying to the Afghan government.
The U.S. Army’s Utility Helicopters Project Office (UHPO), headquarted in Huntsville, AL, is managing the overall Afghan Black Hawk helicopter program. Unitech’s initial contract, with Science and Engineering Services (SES), is for the first three LASS shipsets, with the first one scheduled to deliver in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Unitech’s LASS “wings” will be installed on UH-60A Black Hawks with fixed-forward-firing weapons, to both the Afghan Air Force and the special operations-dedicated Special Mission Wing (SMW). Published program requirements call for 58 of these weaponized Black Hawks. The Army Engineering Directorate (AED) is expected to issue an airworthiness release (AWR) prior to the Black Hawks being deployed in Afghanistan in late 2019.
“It is a great honor to supply the U.S. and Afghan warfighters with a lightweight composite solution that enables tremendous weapons capability,” said Dan Kinney, Sr. Director for Business Development and Programs for Unitech Composites. “The UHPO will now have a solution to other approved foreign military sales customers who are interested in a Black Hawk helicopter that is a true multi-role utility and combat aircraft.”
The LASS weapons plyons were originally supplied to the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) and they have been in operation for nearly 10 years. These composite wings were developed as a lightweight, corrosion resistant direct replacement for the External Fuel System (EFS) single-station weapons pylons that were installed on MH-60 DAP helicopters. Unitech’s LASS weapons pylon are 52% lighter when compared to the legacy metallic EFS plyons and they reduce drag and maintain a neutral lift. LASS wings are easy to install and designed to fit existing UH-60A/L/M Black Hawk models with standard hardpoints. Depending on a customer’s needs, LASS wings can be configured to support a variety of weapons configurations including 30 mm cannon, 50 cal guns, 2.75 inch rocket pods, and several missile payloads.