STRATFORD, Conn., March 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Colombian Army has formally inducted five new Sikorsky S-70i multi-mission helicopters into its fleet of BLACK HAWK aircraft. Colombia is the first South American country to buy the S-70i BLACK HAWK helicopter variant from Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX).
"We are honored by the trust the Colombian Armed Forces continue to place in Sikorsky, and in the BLACK HAWK aircraft as the country's utility helicopter of choice," said Jennifer Caruso, Sikorsky Vice President of Army and Air Force Programs.The aircraft were accepted during a Feb. 11 ceremony in Tolemaida attended by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon. Built at Sikorsky's aircraft manufacturing facility in Mielec, Poland, the five aircraft were custom-equipped in the United States for the Special Forces of the Colombian Army's Air Assault Division. A team of Colombian pilots and maintainers flew the five aircraft from Connecticut 4,334 miles (6,975 km) via Central America to the Army Special Operation Aviation Military base in Tolemaida, arriving Jan. 30 following 10 days of flight. Before departing Connecticut, the Colombian team received extensive training from Sikorsky to become familiar with the S-70i aircraft's digital cockpit and advanced avionics. The system includes a dual GPS/INS system with digital map that provides accurate navigation and enhanced situational awareness. The team also graduated instructor pilots and maintainers to train others in their unit. The five S-70i aircraft join a fleet of 96 UH-60L helicopters operated by the Colombian National Police, Colombian Air Force, and Colombian Army —accounting for the world's fourth-largest BLACK HAWK fleet. Military forces in almost 30 countries operate more than 3,000 BLACK HAWK aircraft for a variety of missions, including troop transport and air assault, cargo lift, search and rescue, and VIP transport.