BANGKOK, July 19 (UPI) -- Thailand has agreed to buy two Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters under the U.S. government's foreign military sales program.
The agreement, made by the Thai army in a letter of offer and acceptance, will make Thailand the first member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to fly the latest version of the Black Hawk, a statement by Sikorsky said.
"The Black Hawk helicopter is the standard by which all military utility helicopters are judged," said Samir Mehta, president of Sikorsky Military Systems.
"The UH-60M represents the very latest, most comprehensively equipped model that we have ever developed and delivered to the United States government. More nations are increasingly discovering its multi-mission value, outstanding performance record, and durability even in the harshest and most hostile environments."
Sweden became the first European country to acquire the four-bladed, medium-lift UH-60M from Sikorsky, a United Technologies Corp. company.
Mission configurations for the Black Hawk include troop transport, medical evacuation, electronic warfare, attack, assault support and special operations.
Sikorsky has manufactured more than 3,000 Black Hawk helicopters, which are operating in 30 countries, the company said.
Of these, more than 2,000 are operated by the U.S. Army which has flown them in Iraq and Afghanistan where they have accumulated more than 1.3 million fleet flight hours without a single Class A material failure, Sikorsky said.
The utility helicopter, introduced in 1979, is powered by twin General Electric T700 turbo shaft engines and can carry 11 troops with equipment, lift 2,600 pounds of cargo internally or 9,000 pounds of cargo in an external sling.
The Thai army also operates several of the earlier UH-60L version.
In August 2011, Thailand became the first country outside the United States to take delivery of Sikorsky's latest version of the naval Sierra version of the Black Hawk, the MH-60S.
The latest Thai deal comes after Sikorsky announced in February the opening of an office in Malaysia as the start plans to expand business operations in Southeast Asia.
"ASEAN has always been an important market for Sikorsky and the aerospace industry at large," Christophe Nurit, Sikorsky vice president of Asia sales said at the time.
"Sikorsky aircraft have been serving ASEAN fleets since the 1960s, providing a breadth of military and commercial mission support. Our products carry a legacy of safety and reliability that are a solid foundation on which to further grow our relationships in Southeast Asia."
ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore Thailand and Vietnam.
Brunei last year contracted Sikorsky Aircraft for a dozen S-70i Black Hawks, a version assembled by PZL Mielec in Poland.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. acquired PZL Mielec, based in Mielec, in 2007.