MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
January 11/18: Development Contract—AOEW Lockheed Martin announced the receipt of an undisclosed value US Navy development contract to provide the service’s MH-60 helicopters with an enhanced electronic warfare surveillance and countermeasure capabilities against anti-ship missile (ASM) threats. The firm’s Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) Active Mission Payload (AMP) AN/ALQ-248 system, is a self-contained EW pod that will be integrated and hosted on both MH-60R and S-variant helicopters, and will provide the Navy with advanced ASM detection and response capabilities. The system can work either independently or with the ship’s onboard electronic surveillance sensor, SEWIP Block 2 AN/SLQ-32(V)6, to detect an incoming missile and then evaluate where it is going. AOEW then uses radio frequency countermeasure techniques to deter the missile. Under the terms of the contract, if all options are exercised, Lockheed will deliver up to 18 AOEW AMP AN/ALQ-248 pods to the Navy. The company will start manufacturing in early 2019 with a target to reach initial operational capability in 2021.
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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