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Moments after Maj. Gen. James Myles, commanding general, Aviation and Missile Command, took off in the Corpus Christi Army Depot UH-1H Huey to attend a meeting at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, UH-60A crew members launched the last A-to-A recapitalized Black Hawk from the depot recently.
The UH-60A Recapitalization Program kicked off during 2002 with the induction of the first A-to-A aircraft at Corpus Christi Army Depot. The first was delivered in 2003 marking the culmination of a successful partnership between Sikorsky Aircraft and the depot.
"Completion of the last UH-60 A-to-A aircraft is certainly a milestone of amazing success," said Col. Joe Dunaway, commander of Corpus Christi Army Depot. "More importantly it marks the next chapter of the Army's continued journey to recapitalize the entire UH-60A/L fleet."
The last UH-60 A-to-A recap Black Hawk took off and headed for Fort Rucker, Ala., with its crew from there: Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Calloway, Chief Warrant Officer Mark Simmons, and Sgt. 1st Class Jesus Colon.
Designed to provide for infantry squad delivery anywhere on the battlefield, the Black Hawk is the Army's utility helicopter of choice. Contributing approximately 2.4 million flight hours since 2003, it is the primary air platform used by commanders to initiate, sustain and conduct combat operations and can deliver arms, troops and supplies at a moment's notice.
Recapitalization, or "recap" for short, is part of the Army's ever-present effort to reduce platform sustainment costs and contain the expense of replacing aging helicopters with new ones.
Overhauling and upgrading structural, engine, and airframe components allows Army Aviation to realize an asset that is equal to or better than a new one.
"These programs provide Army Aviation the most modernized and advanced UH-60 fleet at a significant reduced cost to the taxpayer," Dunaway said.
The Depot launched 142 production aircraft during the program. The recapitalized aircraft have been delivered to Army National Guard units throughout the United States, and to the United States Army Aviation Warfighting Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.
Many have been deployed to the theater in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Utility Helicopters Project Office has monitored eight of these aircraft and found that they have experienced a significantly higher mission-capable rate than UH-60A aircraft in the same units that have not been recapitalized.
Improvements have been found in monitored recapped UH-60 reliability, availability, and maintainability. Four aircraft that have been analyzed revealed that two recap aircraft had significant improvement in RAM metrics than two non-recapitalized monitored at the same location for the same amount of time.
"It restores the Army's aging fleet of UH-60 helicopters, expands the commander's training and tactical capability and provides the war fighter significantly enhanced mission readiness on the battlefield," said Dunaway.
Corpus Christi Army Depot continuously seeks to improve the process to meet customer satisfaction and demand. The benefits of a recapitalized aircraft are most definitively realized by the customer, the Soldier. User feedback is consistently very positive and rewarding to the men and women of CCAD, Utility Helicopter Project Office and Sikorsky Aircraft Company.
"When you combine the skills and expertise of the UH-60 PM (project manager), Sikorsky Aircraft, and this depot - there is simply nothing they cannot do for our aviation Soldiers," Dunaway said. "It's an honor to be a part of this program and phenomenal team from the acquisition, OEM and industrial base," he added.