MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
January 9/19: AN/SRQ-4 work The US Naval Air Systems Command awarded L-3 Technologies with a $12.6 contract modification to manufacture, test, deliver, manage, and support the common data link Hawklink AN/SRQ-4 systems for the MH-60R aircraft. The Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission helicopter is equipped for a range of missions including anti-submarin warfare, anti-surface warfare, search-and-rescue, naval gunfire support, surveillance, logistics support and personnel transfer. AN/SRQ-4 is the shipboard element of a situational awareness system that links the MH-60R helicopter with surface warships in the area. The L3 Technologies’ next-generation AN/SRQ-4 provides Command/Control, sensor data transfer, data link operation and comprehensive built-in test. CDL Hawklink offers real time exploitation of aircraft sensors, extending situational awareness over the horizon. L3 Technologies’ Communication Systems produce network and communication systems, secure communications products, radio frequency components, satellite communication terminals and space, microwave and telemetry products. The products include secure data links that are used to connect a variety of space, airborne, ground and sea-based communication systems and are used in transmission, processing, recording, monitoring and dissemination functions. Work is scheduled to be finished by December 2020.
The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.
European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.
The New Sikorsky Seahawks
Romeo, Armed: The MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter
Blue Collar Sierra: The MH-60S
The MH-60R/S Program
MH-60R/S Contracts and Key Events
FY 2015 – 2018
FY 2005 and earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Ancillary Systems
News and Views
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