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By Brad Rhen
The chief of the National Guard Bureau visited Fort Indiantown Gap Aug. 3 to get a firsthand look at the new variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, the UH-60V.
Gen. Daniel Hokanson visited the Pennsylvania National Guard’s Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site, which was selected last year to be the first unit in the Army – active-duty, National Guard or Reserve – to receive the new variant.
After meeting with Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Hokanson was fitted with flight gear and received a briefing on the UH-60V and EAATS’s UH-60V program before taking a flight in the aircraft. A helicopter pilot by training, Hokanson actually flew the aircraft for part of the flight.
Afterwards, Hokanson said he thinks the “Victor” model is a significant improvement over previous variants of the UH-60.
“The National Guard, when you look at our primary mission, it’s to fight and win our nation’s wars, so it is extremely capable in that environment,” he said. “But it also has a lot of great capabilities that will help us in the homeland. We have seen in Montana and Kentucky this year just how important helicopters were to rescue citizens during major disasters.”
Hokanson said the UH-60V program at EAATS is “incredible” and said is another great program for the National Guard.
“The National Guard has the experience and the skill set to meet the requirements of the total Army and help take a lot of that workload off Fort Rucker and other locations and meet the demands of the Army to get fully trained and experience aviators to all of our formations,” he said.
It says a lot about National Guard that the Army chose the Pennsylvania National Guard to be the first unit to receive the UH-60V, Hokanson said.
“With all of our Guard units, the level of experience of capability that we have not only with our air crews but our maintainers and all of our support personnel, it just shows that any type of aircraft that is in any component of the Army, or even the Air Force, has a home in the National Guard,” he said.
The UH-60V was developed with a focus to overhaul the aging UH-60A and L fleets. It includes an upgraded digital glass cockpit, certified GPS RNAV database and advanced flight planning and mission capability.
EAATS received six UH-60Vs in July 2021. After training on the new variants themselves, the school’s instructor pilots have been training pilots from other states on them.
"It was a tremendous privilege to host General Hokanson at Fort Indiantown Gap today and discuss the UH-60V program,” said Schindler. “The Pennsylvania National Guard was honored as the first unit in the Army to field this new variant. Our selection, to lead the way with this program, speaks volumes to the high degree of competency and professionalism that the men and women at EAATS and the Pennsylvania National Guard embody."
As chief of the NGB, Hokanson is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and serves as a military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council. He is the Department of Defense’s official channel of communication to the governors and state adjutants general on all matters pertaining to the National Guard.
Hokanson said he enjoys the opportunity to get out and visit the 54 states and territories and meet with Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard.
“Every time I get a chance to visit our Soldiers and Airmen, it just renews how important they are to our nation, not only for the fight overseas, but here at home,” he said. “To see what they’re doing, how they balance their civilian careers, their military careers and their family and continue to build readiness and retain that level of experience for our nation, it’s just sometimes clearly the best part of my job.”