Unitech – a supplier of complex composite laminates, components, and assemblies for the commercial aerospace and defense markets – won an initial contract from Science and Engineering Services (SES) to deliver the first three LASS shipsets, starting in the fourth quarter of 2018. The contract value was not disclosed.
MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter armed with Unitech’s Lightweight Armament Support Structure (LASS) weapons pylon.
Unitech’s LASS “wings” will be installed on UH-60A Black Hawks manufactured by Sikorsky, part of Lockheed Martin Corp., with fixed-forward-firing weapons to both the Afghan Air Force and the Special Mission Wing (SMW) dedicated to special operations.
The U.S. Army’s Utility Helicopters Project Office (UHPO) in Huntsville, Ala., is managing the Afghan Black Hawk helicopter program. Published program requirements call for a total of 58 weaponized Black Hawk medium-lift military helicopters.
Unitech’s LASS weapons pylons were originally supplied to the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) and have been in operation for nearly 10 years.
The company’s 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 Direct Air Penetrator (DAP) helicopters.
Unitech’s LASS weapons pylon are 52 percent lighter when compared to legacy metallic EFS plyons, reduce drag, and maintain a neutral lift. LASS wings are easy to install and designed to fit existing UH-60A/L/M Black Hawk variants with standard hardpoints. LASS wings can be configured to support a variety of weapons configurations, including 30-millimeter cannon, 50-caliber guns, 2.75-inch rocket pods, and several missile payloads.
The Army Engineering Directorate (AED) is expected to issue an airworthiness release (AWR) prior to the UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters being deployed in Afghanistan in late 2019.
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“It is a great honor to supply the U.S. and Afghan warfighters with a lightweight composite solution that enables tremendous weapons capability. 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 multirole utility and combat aircraft,” says Dan Kinney, senior director of business development and programs at Unitech Composites.
Unitech Composites, established in 1979 and located in Hayden, Idaho, provides complex laminates and components and assemblies, multi-axis machining, close tolerance fabrication, and hand layup. Unitech Composites is a Unitech Aerospace company.
Unitech Aerospace provides the aerospace, marine, medical, defense, nuclear, and rail industries with composite and metallic structures and components that meet demanding and complex requirements. The company’s growing global footprint is currently comprised of strategically located sites providing local and immediate support to customers. Integrated solutions range from early stage design, rate production, to full-term sustainment making Unitech Aerospace the industry’s trusted lifecycle partner.
SES – based in Columbia, Maryland, with a facility in Huntsville, Ala. – provides maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services in support of airplanes, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and ground combat systems.
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