Tunisia getting more Black Hawks, ScanEagle support


Sikorsky has been awarded a $38 million contract to provide another four Black Hawk helicopters to Tunisia, which will also be the recipient of a nearly $10 million contract to support its ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Sikorsky Aircraft was awarded a $38.4 million modification foreign military sales contract for four UH-60M uniquely modified aircraft in support of the Tunisian Ministry of National Defense, the US Department of Defence announced on 28 September. The work will have an estimated completion date of 30 April 2020.

An initial $3 838 600 was released from fiscal year 2016 other funds at the time of the contract award.

In July 2014 it emerged that Tunisia had requested 12 UH-60Ms but with recent contracts the North African country will receive now 16 Black Hawks.

In July last year the US Army has announced a $79.7 million contract to be executed by Sikorsky for four modified UH60M black Hawk helicopters for Tunisia. The contract followed the approval, in March 2015, of eight similar rotary-winged aircraft for the North African country under a $93.3 million contract.

All told the deal, including equipment, parts, training and logistic support, is estimated at $700 million for the first 12 helicopters.

The UH-60M Black Hawk variant Tunisia will receive is the most advanced model of the UH-60/S-70 series, and can be armed with rockets and missiles. The first eight helicopters Tunisia will get will be in a green (unmodified) configuration but Tunisia has requested Battlehawk kits to effectively turn the aircraft into attack helicopters. As part of the deal Tunisia will get 24 7.62 mm M134 Miniguns, 24 12.7 mm (.50 inch) GAU-19 Gatling guns, 20 M299 Hellfire missile pods and 24 70 mm Hydra rocket pods with 9 100 Hydra rockets and 100 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles.

Other equipment will include 15 Wescam MX-15Di or Brite Star II electro-optical/infrared designators and 30 AN/AVS-9 night-vision goggles. The countermeasures suite is to comprise AN/APR-39A(V)4 radar warning receivers, AN/AAR-57 missile warning systems, and AN/AVR-2B(V)1 laser warning systems.

The Black Hawks will be used in border patrol, rapid reaction and medevac taskings to support both Tunisian air and ground forces in counter-terrorism and border security operations.

The Tunisian military has been fighting militant groups allied to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) since 2012.

The US Department of Defence also last month issued a contract for equipment to support Tunisian ScanEagles. The $9 802 042 contract, announced on 29 September, was awarded to Insitu and is for the procurement of launch and recovery equipment, spares, support equipment, and support services for the ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system for the government of Tunisia Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Services Programme. Half the work will be performed in Bizerte, Tunisia, 40% in the United States and the rest in Beja, Tunisia, and is expected to be completed in September 2017.

In July this year Insitu was awarded a contract for a single ScanEagle UAV system for Tunisia. Tunisia’s Navy is an existing operator of the ScanEagle, operating an unknown number of the type.