MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
September 12/17: Lockheed Martin has received a $27 million modification to an existing US Navy contract for the supply of retrofitting kits for the 60 Automatic Radar Periscope Detect and Discrimination (ARPDD) program. The firm will deliver 11 standard and 5 SEED kits for the program, which will provide a series of radar upgrades for use on MH-60 Seahawk helicopters to help spot and discriminate enemy submarine periscopes. Work will primarily take place in Farmingdale, NY and Oswego, NY, with completion by October 2020. ARPDD has been in use with the Navy since 2009 and upgraded several times since then. It is one of the few systems available that are capable of identifying and tracking submarine periscopes.
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 – 2017
FY 2005 and earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Ancillary Systems
News and Views
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