Pubdate: Tue, 19 Dec 2000
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2000, New Haven Register
Author: Wayne E. Travers, Jr.


STRATFORD - Sikorsky Aircraft will deliver 30 S-70 Black Hawk helicopters 
to aid the Colombian government's war on drugs, company officials said Monday.

The helicopters will be ready by late 2001 as a result of two recently 
signed contracts valued at about $221 million.

Both contracts will help "stabilize" the Sikorsky work force, spokesman 
William Tuttle said, but no additional hiring is expected.

The S-70 is the export version of the UH-60, in U.S. Army service since 
1978. Variants of the UH-60 are in operation or on order in 22 nations.

The first contract, valued at $116 million, calls for 16 aircraft to be 
delivered between July and December 2001. It was signed Friday, Tuttle said.

Those aircraft will support the U.S.-sponsored "Plan Colombia," a $1.3 
billion aid package earmarked to help Colombia battle domestic narcotics 

The second agreement, signed a day earlier, calls for 14 Black Hawks valued 
at $106 million, Sikorsky officials said.

The company expects to deliver to the Colombian government by the end of 
2001. Sikorsky officials said they had no information on how those aircraft 
would be used.

Colombian National Police will use the S-70 to reach remote mountain coca 
and poppy fields. It has been estimated that up to 90 percent of the 
cocaine sold in the United States and two-thirds of the heroin on the East 
Coast comes from Colombia.

The helicopter can carry up to 11 fully-outfitted troops or four 
stretchers, according to the company. Its external cargo hook can carry up 
to 9,000 pounds.

The S-70 has a range of more than 300 miles and can reach speeds of nearly 
200 miles per hour, according to Sikorsky.

The Black Hawk should be a "pretty potent weapon" in fighting the 
well-equipped private armies protecting Colombian drug operations, 
according to Bill Dane, an analyst with Newtown-based Forecast International.
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