The Latvian Air Force has taken delivery of its first two UH-60M Black Hawk medium-lift utility helicopters from the US.

The announcement was made by Nato Allied Air Command on 20 December.

The aircraft were delivered at Lielvārde Air Force Base (AFB) in Rembate Parish, Latvia, by the US Air Force’s (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft.

Following the arrival at Lielvārde AFB, the technicians transported the two partially disassembled helicopters to the aircraft hangar to commence the necessary technical work and final assembling processes.

Once this work is complete, the aircraft will then undergo a series of flight tests before being finally handed over to the Latvian Air Force for operations.

The helicopters have been delivered as part of a cooperative agreement finalised between the US and Latvia in late 2018 to acquire a total of four UH-60M helicopters.

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The remaining two aircraft are expected to be handed over by the end of next year.

Set to replace the existing Soviet-built Mi-17 helicopters, Black Hawks will support Latvian Air Force in conducting various search and rescue and other missions.

The Latvian Air Force’s pilots and technicians have already received associated training to operate and maintain the newly delivered helicopters.

Latvian Air Force commander colonel Viesturs Masulis said: “This is a long-awaited addition to our military inventory, allowing Air Force to reach new level of capability with new and modern Black Hawk helicopters and to strengthen interoperability with our allies.

“Five helicopter crews have already been trained and currently former Mi-17 crews are undergoing conversion training in 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.”