MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters
August 20/18: How long will they fly? The Navy is funding research on its fleet of MH-60 Sierra Multi-Mission Helicopters. The aircraft’s manufacturer Sikorsky is being awarded with a cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order valued a $9.7 million. The company will be responsible to conduct engineering efforts necessary to conduct comprehensive fatigue life analysis to define the expected service life of the Knighthawk. The MH-60S entered service in 2002 as a replacement for the US Navy’s Boeing CH-46D Sea Knight, flown mostly in utility roles that involve moving cargo between ships. It is designed specifically for amphibious assault operations but it fulfills multi-role operational capabilities. The MH-60S functions as a heavy-lift capable helicopter for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore transport. Work will be performed at Sikorsky’s facility in Stratford, Connecticut and is expected to be completed in January 2022.
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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