Portuguese AF Fire Fighting Black Hawks

PAF fire-fighting Black Hawks. PAF

SHAH ALAM: Portuguese Air Force (PAF) on November 22 took delivery of two Black Hawk UH-60A helicopters configured for fire-fighting. The two are part of a six-helicopter deal ordered from US Black Hawk conversion specialist, Arista Aviation Services on August 12, 2022.’

The six-helicopter contract is worth US$47 million which is RM219.7 million. As the helicopters were purchased outright, PAF will be paying for the upkeep of the helicopter.

The red paint denotes that the PAF Black Hawks will be used for fire fighting. PAF.

The six Black Hawks were purchased under the country’s Pandemic Recovery Plan which include two light helicopters and three more helicopters to be procured in a tender soon.
One of the two Black Hawks delivered to PAF on November 22 2023. PAF

The Malaysian Army is leasing four Black Hawks for five years for RM187 million. What are this Portuguese Black Hawks got anything with us then? Nothing but it is likely our helicopters are the same vintage.
The cockpit of the PAF Black Hawk fire fighting helicopters. The new glass cockpit are likely from Genesys Aerosystem which work with Arista to provide the latest EFIS for its customers.

As PAF graciously put-up photographs of the new, second-hand helicopters, I thought it will be unfair not to share it. Especially with the high-resolution picture of the upgraded cockpit. We may not be able to see the cockpit of our leased Black Hawks.
The flight instrument of a standard UH-60 Black Hawk. Arista.

Anyhow, let just say it is the calm before the storm.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2200 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. This is a very good benchmark on what would it cost for PUTD to purchase used Blackhawks outright.

    I am for used Blackhawks, as they are 40+ years old design anyway, and US Army has already chosen their blackhawk replacement helicopter, which is the Bell V-280 Valor

    Get used blackhawks for PUTD, 12 units would go for USD 94 million only. Use them for 15-20 years (to 2040). Get V-280 post 2040.

    BTW marhalim, the cockpit is the G5000H touchscreen (yes like your latest phone/tablet) system from Garmin (yes same company that make your garmin smartwatches) , not from Gensys. Even brand new Blackhawks does not have touchscreen cockpits. It is offered by the same company that is preparing the PUTD leased Blackhawks. I believe the PUTD leased Blackhawks will have the same new advanced Garmin cockpits as these Portuguese birds.

  2. And this brings me to the TUDM want for 12 more brand new medium lift helicopter in 2026-2030.

    TUDM previously bought 12 EC725 for an exorbitant cost of around USD650 million, and i believe TUDM is requesting that much to get 12 more medium lift helicopters in RMK13 2026-2030.

    I am of the opinion that more medium lift helicopters should be bought for PUTD and not TUDM, and for that medium lift budget budget TUDM should go buy AEW instead in RMK13.

    Even if we buy 24 used Blackhawks for PUTD, it would cost less than 30% the cost to buy 12 new medium lift helicopters for TUDM.

  3. If thats the price, PUTD should go buy 12 more and let Aerotree maintain them. Maybe some extra units for spareparts.

    Greater mobility with helos, esp our GGK and Paras

  4. … – “I am of the opinion that more medium lift helicopters should be bought for PUTD and not TUDM,

    “I’m of the opinion” that the army needs more airframes than the RNAF first it really needs to increase its manpower levels and to expand its support/training infrastructure. Things sing hspoen in a vacuum and not overnight.

    … “I am for used Blackhawks, as they are 40+ years old design anyway”

    “I’m for” anything which can do the job but I’m very concerned with the long germ operating/sustainment costs of aged airframes because that is an inherent issue and sustainment of even new assets is any issue; never mind older assets which inherently require more maintenance per flight hour.

  5. No lah the deal was only RM1.6 billion though admittedly it was some RM300 million higher than the bid price by Eurocopter (the former name of Airbus). See my story from 2007

  6. Another indirect connection we have with the PAF is the Alo 3 “gun ship”. The PAF was the 1st to fit a 20mm to the Alo 3: followed by Rhodesia and then us.

  7. During Turkey President visit, PMX say buy drone and helicopter but up to end user decide. I smell we going to get Turkey license build Blackhawks

  8. Sucks we can’t buy russian stuffs anymore. I thinks Mi-17 are good candidates for putd medium lift helo

  9. Just an interesting fact that in US fire fighting service, Blackhawks are called Firehawk to differentiate from the military version. These are brand new build to civvie specs but share 90% commonality except certain mechanical features & secure comm radios.

    Also since its leased units, there is little incentive for PUTD to demand an updated cockpit unless the leasor company has upgraded them, again its something of an extra cost or a USP (as there are many others that can also offer leased Blackhawks too) so it depends. If we are going cheap its likely the standard un-updated units.

  10. Most of the Black Hawks offered for sale by US aviation companies have upgraded cockpits. It is because the old steam cockpit are un supportable anymore. Based on pictures from Aerotree MD, the Black Hawk they are leasing to PUTD are the ones with the upgraded cockpit

  11. @Michael
    “going to get Turkey license build Blackhawks”
    Sikorsky will not allow that. The Turks build are for their own usage. For export market, Sikorsky sells Polish license built by their sub PZL Mielec and US made config if the customer can pay.

    “Black Hawk they are leasing to PUTD are the ones with the upgraded cockpit”
    Thats good to know, at least we are getting our moneys worth.

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