MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
April 23/18: DSCA Clearance-Mexico Despite differences over who will pay for the wall along their common border, the Mexican government has been cleared by the Trump administration for the potential purchase of 8 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahwak helicopters. Announced in a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) press release on Thursday, April 19, the package is estimated to reach $1.2 billion with Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems outfit based out of Owego, New York acting as principal contractor in the sale. Included in sale are engines, radars, radios, naval equipment and spares, alongside deliveries of Hellfire missiles, Captive Air Training missiles, Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) II rockets, and Mk -54 Lightweight Hybrid Torpedoes (LHTs). The Seahawk is the US Navy’s version of the US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk. According to the DSCA, the potential acquisition of the helicopters is part of a modernization push by Mexico’s armed forces.
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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