MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
February 21/20: India The Cabinet Committee on Security of India has reportedly approved the procurement of 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters from the US. The $2.6 billion worth helicopter acquisition is for the Indian Navy and will be done through the US Foreign Military Sales program. In April 2018, the procurement was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council, while the sale was also approved by the DoS in April last year. US Congress has also been notified about the possible sale. Lockheed Martin was selected to serve as the sale’s principal contractor. The helicopters will replace the Sea King helicopters that were phased out in 2000. According to US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopters will enhance India’s capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions.
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 – 2020
FY 2005 and earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: Ancillary Systems
News and Views
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