Up to $246M for 6 Royal Thai Navy MH-60S Helicopters
In April 2006, Thailand made an official request to buy up to 6 MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, making them the 1st country to request this updated naval utility rotorcraft. They offer a number of advances over previous SH-60B/F machines, but they replace those helicopters’ anti-submarine equipment with advanced day/night surveillance sensors, ground-attack weapons capability, and a more explicit utility/cargo role.
The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $246 million, but Thailand became the type’s 1st export customer with a smaller 2007 order for just 2 machines. So, why the MH-60S? And what’s the status of the order?
Why the MH-60S?
The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) will use the helicopters in a utility role, alongside their 6 earlier-model S-70B Seahawk naval helicopters, and 6 marinized S-76 helicopters, which have carved out a utility niche in the civilian offshore oil & gas industry, among others. Thailand’s geography gives it a long coastline to monitor, and almost all of the country’s natural gas fields are located offshore in the Gulf of Thailand.
Though the Thai government’s response to the 2004 tsunami was given very positive ratings, the event highlighted Thailand’s need to enhance its maritime defense and disaster relief capabilities. As the most modern naval utility variant of the H-60 series, the MH-60S apparently fit their requirements better than the Army-optimized UH-60Ms, or the more expensive MH-60R which is explicitly designed for anti-submarine warfare and surface strike. An attachment set called AMCM can even be fitted to the MH-60S, in order to give it anti-mine capabilities.
Contracts & Key Events
Aug 8/11: A pair of MH-60S Seahawk helicopters fly from Owego, NY into the Port of Baltimore, MD, for ship transport to Thailand. Once there, they’ll join an existing fleet of 6 S-70B Seahawks, and 6 marinized S-76 utility helicopters. Sikorsky adds that: “The [Thai] Navy has expressed interest in additional MH-60S purchases” for utility missions, and for search and rescue duties using the standard surveillance turret, searchlight and rescue hoist. Sikorsky | Lockheed Martin.
June 18/07: The Royal Thai Navy becomes the first international customer to buy the MH-60S helicopter, after signing a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with the U.S. Government to purchase 2 Sikorsky MH-60S aircraft for an estimated program value of $58 million inclusive of spares, support and training. The agreement, signed by the U.S. Navy and the Royal Thai Navy, specifies delivery of the aircraft in 2009. Sikorsky release.
April 7/06: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Thailand’s official request to buy up to 6 MH-60S helicopters and 14 T700 engines, plus spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support.
There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. Implementation will require up to 10 U.S. contractor representatives for periodic short-term visits not to exceed three months for each visit. One field service representative will be available for up to two years in Thailand.
The principal contractors will be:
- Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (manufacturer)
- Lockheed Martin Federal Systems in Owego, NY (cockpit & avionics, systems & weapons integration, training system)
- General Electric Corporation in Stratford, CT (engines)