MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
November 23/18: Sonar repair Thales Defense and Security is being awarded with a delivery order for the repair of the airborne low frequency sonar system (ALFS) sonar dome installed on the Navy’s MH-60R helicopters. The undefinitized contract action is priced at $14 million and covers the repair of 58 sonar units. The AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) is the primary undersea warfare (USW) sensor of the MH-60R multi-mission helicopter. This integrated dipping sonar system enables the ‘Romeo’ to perform ASW missions. including submarine detection, tracking, localization and classification. Work will be performed in Clarksburg, Maryland and Brest, France. Performance is expected to be completed by November 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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