Latvia gets its first 'Black Hawk' helicopters

Latvia took delivery December 11 of the first 'Black Hawk' military helicopters its has ordered from the United States. 

Outgoing Defense Minister Artis Pabriks tweeted an image of the choppers being unloaded from a transport plane at the Lielvārde air base where the U.S'. own Black Hawks have been operating on a rotational basis –in more ways than one. 

Latvian air force personnel have been learning how to handle and maintain the famous choppers for some time, as recently reported by the official Sargs.lv military news portal. According to Sargs.lv, Latvia's Black Hawk pilots have been training for two years in Spain and America.

 "This is a long-awaited addition to the arsenal that allows the Air Force to achieve a new level of capability by replacing the outmoded Soviet Mi-17s with new and advanced Black Hawk helicopters. The new equipment will help both in military operations and, if necessary, also in rescue works and other types of operations," said Pabriks.

Both helicopters have been delivered to Latvia in a partially disassembled form, therefore in coming days, the necessary technical work will be carried out in order to be able to perform planned test flights.

Latvia's government in 2018 approved the purchase of the four UH-60M "Black Hawk" helicopters in a deal worth 175 million euros under the Foreign Military Financing Program of the U.S.

"Replacement of our helicopters is vital not only for the tasks of the National Armed Forces, but also for providing civilian functions, providing support to wider society," said then-Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis at the time.

The UH-60M Black Hawk "is the most suitable helicopter for the National Armed Forces, both for military and civilian tasks," it was said, without mentioning if any alternatives had been considered. It was originally intended that the first Black Hawk would be delivered to the National Armed Forces in 2021.

The contract includes the purchase of helicopters and necessary equipment, training of personnel, purchase of spare parts, technical documentation, support for the implementation of the system, and the introduction of airworthiness and operational procedures in accordance with U.S. standards. 

On Monday the Defense Ministry released a video of the delivery, complete with soaring cinematic soundtrack.

The pre-Christmas period has already brought several welcome deliveries to the Latvian air force – as previously reported by LSM, locally-made 'Tarragon' training and observation aircraft were recently delivered, too.

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