The US Army’s Security Assistance Command (USASAC) has completed the delivery of a $338 million foreign military sales (FMS) package of eight Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and associated training and support to Tunisia, writes Jon Lake. The USASAC’s core mission is to increase the military capabilities of countries that share similar security goals with the US. The UH-60Ms were ordered by Tunisia in 2015. Four of the helicopters were delivered in June 2017, and four more followed in June 2018.
The USASAC and the contracting authority ¬– Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama – followed a total package approach in accordance with the USA’s new security assistance enterprise mission.
This is designed to ensure that partner countries are fully trained on how to use and maintain equipment purchased from the US, and to build trust and create long-term partnerships that will underpin future interoperability and cooperation.
The package for Tunisia included training an initial aircrew cadre at Fort Rucker, Alabama, for pilots, instructor pilots and standardisation pilots; while helicopter crew chiefs and maintainers underwent training at a number of US Army schools.
This helped to build Tunisian capabilities, and promises to ensure that Tunisia and the US will use the same operating and maintenance procedures, further increasing interoperability during any future combined missions.
Joint US and Tunisian teams were responsible for introducing the UH-60M into Tunisian service, even down to unloading the new helicopters from the transport aircraft which delivered them, and assembling and flight-testing the UH-60Ms.
Melissa Black, senior FMS case manager for the US Army Aviation and Missile Command Security Assistance Management Directorate’s (AMCOM SAMD) Tunisia UH-60M programme, highlighted the excellent partnership and cooperation between the various programme partners. “The Tunisian Air Force has extremely hard working and knowledgeable personnel who were able to articulate the requirements related to the varied mission profiles,” she said.
The Black Hawks will improve the north African nation’s ability to deter regional threats – including violent extremist organisations, piracy and smuggling, while strengthening homeland defence capabilities, as well as supporting counterterrorism and border security operations.