WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. – A West Virginia National Guard company has received a new HH-60M “Mike” model Black Hawk helicopter.

According to a release from the West Virginia National Guard, the HH-60M-model is specifically designed to serve as an air medical ambulance to evacuate wounded troops from the battlefield.

Company C, 2-104th General Support Aviation Battalion, Aeromedical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Company, received the first of six helicopters at the Army Aviation Support Facility 1 in Williamstown, West Virginia on Tuesday.

“The Mike model is a 30-year leap in technology with several improvements to existing Black Hawk designs,” stated Lt. Col. Harold Nicely, State Aviation Officer. “The new aircraft has a fully digitalized cockpit. Traditional gauges have been replaced by four multifunction displays for increased situational awareness. It is also fitted with dual digital flight control computer, moving map, storm scope and radio systems, and a GPS/inertial navigation system. All these features help to make the Mike model the most advanced military air ambulance helicopter platform in service.”

The nearly 15,000-pound helicopter can fly at 140.7 kilometers per hour with a range of 275.2 nautical miles. The HH-60M is manned by a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief and flight medic. It can accommodate up to 11 troops.

Features of the HH-60M include:

  • Two Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)-equipped T700-GE-701E engines
  • Improved durability gearbox
  • Newly designed composite rotor blades
  • Upgraded Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) and external hoist.
  • Medical evacuation mission equipment package (MEP) kit
  • Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS)
  • On-board oxygen generation capability
  • Reconfigurable interior with litters for transporting 6 patients along with crew and flight medics

According to the National Guard, this Black Hawk is better suited than current UH-60L “Lima” helicopters for MEDEVAC missions as well as search and rescue and swift water rescue missions. And the additions of the MEP and IVHMS make the helicopter a true dedicated air ambulance.

While the primary mission of the HH-60M is MEDEVAC, it can also carry out personnel transport, search and rescue, resupply, aerial reconnaissance, cargo transport, and wildfire suppression missions, making it a truly multi-purpose aerial asset, said the release from the West Virginia National Guard.

Pilots and command leadership are excited to be receiving the new aircraft.

“The new HH-60M airframe increases our ability to support emergency response missions throughout West Virginia, the rest of the nation, and during overseas deployments,” said Maj. Ryan Wolfe, commander of Co. C, 2-104th GASB. “This is the best aircraft the U.S. Army offers, and it tremendously enhances our capability to treat patients and fly safely in even the harshest of environments.”

The unit has already begun training on the new aircraft and is expected to have all six within the next year.