RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Brazil's increased defense and security needs have prompted the country's armed forces to consider deploying more of the U.S. Black Hawk helicopters on humanitarian and military missions in the Amazon and beyond.
A modified S-70 variant of Sikorsky's HH-60 'Pave Hawk' search and rescue helicopter seems to be carving out its own niche in Brazil, Defense Industry Daily reported on its Web site.
The Pave Hawk is an extensively modified version of Black Hawk used primarily by the U.S. Air Force and South Korea's armed forces.
The twin turboshaft engine helicopter incorporates the U.S. Air Force PAVE electronic systems program but it's not clear if the software and hardware supplied to Brazil includes all the elements deployed by U.S. forces.
The helicopter, part of Sikorsky's S-70 family, comprises a much smaller fleet in Brazil than Bell and Eurocopter models that make up a greater part of the Brazilian military inventory.
The price of individual units was not mentioned but industry sources said each helicopter could cost up to $15.8 million.
Brazil has also not confirmed the number of additional helicopters it plans to deploy in its forces and the numbers of the two versions likely to be in use in the long term.
The MH-60G Pave Hawk is primarily used for the recovery of special operations personnel, while the HH-60G Pave Hawk is usually assigned to wartime duties such as recovery of personnel under stressful conditions, and search and rescue.
Both versions are also known to be extremely versatile in day or night operations in hostile environments.
The report follows news media reports that Brazilian armed forces have embarked on a multibillion-dollar defense diversification and upgrade program. Brazilian armed forces want to increase their presence in the Amazonian region, where the government has faced drug and people smuggling and, occasionally, spillover of guerrilla activity in neighboring countries.
Sikorsky said it received a $10.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification "to procure aircraft for the Brazilian air force in support of Foreign Military Sales."
Work will be performed at facilities at the company's headquarters in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of February 2014, Sikorsky said.
Black Hawk variants, including naval derivatives, are in use or on order by other countries in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. More than 2,400 helicopters of various versions of Hawk have been delivered to armed forces worldwide.