ABU DHABI — Sikorsky is close to beginning upgrades to the UAE's helicopters that would give them the "most advanced armed Black Hawks ever produced," a company vice president told Defense News.
"It is a weaponised aircraft will be one of the most advanced armed Blackhawks ever produced," Kokorda said.
"We are finishing the development of the aircraft and we are just at the stages of beginning the production".
The certification of the UAE-mandated weapons kit will be completed in the near future, he added, once the test-firing program is finalized.
Kokorda was not able able to provide more details on the completion dates of the test-firing program.
In February 2011, the UAE announced a $270.5 million upgrade order from Sikorsky for 23 UH-60Ms with Battlehawk kits.
"Some of those, the [UH-60]M model were upgraded and modified for the close-air support role with gun turrets and missile mounts as well," Barrie said.
"This is somehow a continuation of the path the UAE was going down in this area of interest."
"The changing requirements over the years and the evolving security needs has led us to adapt this project that we envisioned together years ago to meet all the current needs of the UAE," Kokorda said.
"[The kit] would make it a weaponized utility helicopter, which goes some of the way of being an attack helicopter, but not all the way," he said.
"The closest in original content to it would be the Mi-24 Hind helicopter because that was combat support helicopter and that could carry troops and pack a fair punch as well."
The development program has been completely funded by the UAE, but is being marketed to other customers.
"Right now [this product] is for them and until we have finished creating the product for them, we are actively marketing it, telling everybody that we are going to have this weapons kit available, but we are not necessarily developing other things beyond what the UAE is looking to put in," Kokorda said.
He stated that the joint development of this program, which will bring the most advanced weaponized Black Hawk to the market, is an important aspect for Sikorsky.
"One way to make sure that both sides get something out of this within the framework of the ITAR is that there is investment coming from the UAE to the United States."
"So it's not just Sikorsky investing in AMMROC, this is the UAE investing in development in the United States and that weapons kit intact is fueling engineers in the United States to do work."
Awad Mustafa is a Middle East and Africa correspondent for Defense News.