The M-60R and MH-60S naval helicopters Manufacturer: Sikor…

The M-60R and MH-60S naval helicopters

Manufacturer:

Sikorsky [UTX] produces the H-60 series aircraft for the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy. Lockheed Martin [LMT] produces Navy H-60 series aircrew training systems, as well as serving as the lead systems integrator for the MH-60R acquisition under a separate contract worth almost $7 billion.

Characteristics:

The MH-60S, based on the Armyís UH-60L airframe and the Navyís SH-60B, is a medium-lift utility chopper designed to perform various combat support aircraft missions, including vertical replenishment, combat search and rescue, special warfare support and airborne mine countermeasures MCM. The Navy plans to buy as many as 237 MH-60S aircraft to replace the Navyís Boeing [BA] H-46 helicopters. Two block upgrades are planned for the MH-60S including organic MCM capability in FY í05 and, later, "an armed variant with a forward looking infrared capability, precision-guided munitions and an integrated self-defense package," according to the Naval Air System Command. The MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter is the Navyís successor platform for the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III SH-60B. Both the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters will share elements, such as cockpit electronics. The naval H-60s are powered by two General Electric T700-GE-401C turbine engines producing 1,700 shaft horsepower each. The helicopters can carry nearly 22,000 pounds gross weight with an operating range out to 100 nautical miles from their host ship, which could be an aircraft carrier, guided missile cruiser, guided missile destroyer or frigate. Harris [HRS] and Britainís BAE SYSTEMS are developing a wideband tactical common data link for the MH-60R Ku-Band communications system, a high-speed, air-to-ship, digital data link for sending reconnaissance and targeting data from the helicopter to its host ship.

Combat Use:

The MH-60S completed its first deployment in 2002 and this spring concluded a wartime deployment to the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean. The Navy has acquired more than 40 MH-60S helicopters populating five helicopter combat support squadrons, HC-3, HC-5, HC-6, HC-8 and HC-11. According to the Naval Air Systems Command six MH-60S detachments have been operationally deployed to the Arabian Gulf and the Far East.

Foreign Users:

Naval H-60 derivative aircraft are in service with Spain, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Greece and Thailand.

Analysis:

Both the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft are key elements of the Navyís helicopter program master plan, which provides for the recapitalization of the fleetís rotary-wing aircraft through the next decade. The MH-60R will gradually replace the LAMPS Mk III SH-60B and aircraft-carrier-borne SH-60F helicopters now in service. Equipped with AQS-22 airborne low frequency dipping sonar, a multi-mode radar and Lockheed Martin Hellfire anti-ship missiles, as well as the capability to carry a Mk 54 torpedo, the MH-60R is expected to serve as a key anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare capability extension for the Navyís cruiser squadrons and destroyer squadrons. The Navy began the MH-60R program under a plan to remanufacture existing SH-60Bs to the new MH-60R configuration. After buying seven aircraft under the remanufacture program, cost and schedule challenges drove the decision to revise the program under an all-new manufacture procurement. Overall, the Navy MH-60R fleet requirement has been drawn to a total of 243 aircraft. New production MH-60Rs are to be delivered in 2005. MH-60S entered full-rate production in 2002 under an acquisition that continues through 2010.