“This is a long-awaited addition to our military inventory, allowing the Air Force to reach a new level of capability with the new and modern Black Hawk helicopters and to strengthen interoperability with our Allies,” said Colonel Viesturs Masulis, Commander of the Latvian Air Force. “Five helicopter crews have already been trained and currently the former Mi-17 crews are undergoing conversion training in the US; the initial training phase has ended and we will start using the new helicopters as soon as the first ones are ready for flight,” he added.
The Black Hawks will replace the legacy Soviet-built Mi-17 helicopters for which spare part were running out of stock. The new equipment will help the Latvian Air Force to execute missions e.g. in search and rescue or other types of operations.
A US Air Force C-17 transport plane delivered both helicopters to Lielvārde Air Force Base. Upon touchdown, technicians pulled the partially disassembled helicopters into an aircraft hangar, where necessary technical work will be carried out in the coming days to allow proceeding with scheduled test flights.
The Latvian government approved the acquisition of four modern utility helicopters in late 2018 in a cooperation with the United States. Delivery of the remaining two UH-60Ms is expected at the end of 2023. Latvian Air Force pilots and technicians have participated in several training courses since 2020 to learn how to operate and maintain the new helicopters.