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. MH-60R on deck 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 Before this program began, MH- was the traditional designation for special forces aircraft, but the Navy has now adopted it to stand for “multi-mission.” Confusing nomenclature aside, the new MH-60R/S helicopters will be the backbone of the US Navy’s future helicopter force. The ‘Romeo’ multi-mission Seahawks will erase a previous division of labor. The previous SH-60F traditionally handled the advanced dipping sonar, and performed utility and rescue tasks, while the SH-60B used its radar for wider anti-submarine sweeps, and was armed with a wider array of weapons beyond torpedoes and door guns. That division of labor is being erased by the MH-60R, which can handle all surface attack and anti-submarine roles by itself. Secondary missions that include directing naval surface fire support, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and communications and data relay. At one time, it was informally known as the “Strikehawk.” The MH-60R will replace the faster and longer-range S-3 Viking sea control jet, as well as existing Seahawks. The U.S. Navy had planned to convert all of its SH-60B/Fs to multi-mission H-60Rs (“R” for “remanufactured”). The new version would feature a multi-mode, long-range search radar that can automatically detect and track an increased number of surface vessels, low frequency dipping sonar that provides significantly increased range for detecting submarines, an advanced electro-optical surveillance and target designation turret, the addition of Hellfire anti-armor missile capabilities, an integrated self-defense suite, and a host of other improvements that include a new cabin, a service life extension for the tail, and new avionics including Link 16 datalink connectivity. In 2001, the US Navy restructured the SH-60R program from a remanufacture of the existing U. S. Navy SH-60 fleet to a new procurement program that would remanufacture only 7 helicopters, and build the rest new. This would keep existing SH-60s available for duty, while supplying new-generation helicopters with longer wear lifespans. Common cockpit The new MH-60R common “glass” cockpit is based on display screens rather than dials, and will be shared with the MH-60S. This will allow pilots to switch from one aircraft type to another with greater ease and will reduce the logistic support infrastructure, resulting in lower cost of ownership. It integrates 4 Night Vision Device compatible 8×10 inch color active matrix liquid crystal displays, and provides the operators with: Dual integrated programmable keysets for data entry and mission management; Dual prime/backup flight management computers allowing redundancy for all flight critical operations; Audio management computer providing digital audio for flight communications and sensors; Dual embedded global positioning inertial navigation (EGI) system that includes all weather coupled hover operations. In the MH-60R models and MH-60S Block 2A+ configurations, one of the flight management computers is replaced with a mission computer providing all flight related capabilities plus multiple sensor/weapon data fusion. The cockpit as a whole received Instrument Flight Conditions certification in September 2001, the first NAVAIR IMC certification issued to a glass cockpit. Like the MH-60S, the “Romeos” feature an advanced multi-spectral electro-optical turret, but they use the more advanced AN/AAS-52 MTS (Multi-spectral Targeting System) with a wider field of view. Unlike their MH-60S counterparts, however, the MH-60Rs can be distinguished by the cylindrical naval radar profile on their undersides, characteristic of anti-submarine helicopters around the world. Telephonics’ AN/APS-147 (now APS-153) radar was designed to meet both blue water and shallow/coastal littoral performance requirements in all weather conditions, providing day and night maritime domain surveillance that includes small target detection even amidst wave clutter, Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging, and a unique Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator capability which is readily upgradeable and fully integrated with the helicopter’s combat systems. The AN/APS-153 upgrade adds hardware and software to handle an Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System (APRDDS), which automatically discriminates between periscopes and other small surface objects. The MH-60Rs will also have full sonar capabilities via their Raytheon/Thales AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar (ALFS) and sonobuoys, a big change from the past when bulky electronics forced Sikorsky to split the radar and sonar roles between the SH-60B (radar) and SH-60F (sonar). HSM-71’s Cmdr. Michael K. Nortier has said that this fusion, plus other advances, enables his MH-60R squadron to provide 5x-10x better coverage of the strike group than previous helicopters, and ALFS itself is proving to be much more sensitive than previous systems. Mission systems and integration are bought as a separate item through a multi-year contract with Lockheed Martin Systems Integration of Owego, NY (see Aug 15/07 entry). MH-60Rs fire Hellfire (click to view full) Initial MH-60R armament will include a wide range of systems, from lightweight torpedoes to Penguin anti-ship missiles, Hellfire anti-armor missiles, DAGR laser-guided 70mm rockets, and machine guns. Lot I-II production MH-60R helicopters were equipped with SysConfig 19.9 software, as well as all of the advanced equipment originally planned for the type. Part-way through Lot III (6 helicopters), after around 10 production helicopters, the software leapt ahead to SysConfig 46. Those helicopters added IMDS prognostics in key mechanical areas, along with updates to the ALE-47 countermeasures. These are MH-60R Block 1. Subsequent MH-60Rs upgraded to next-generation SysConfig 58 software, and add an array of new equipment. These “Block 2” [DID reference] helicopters will add the DoD-wide Joint Mission Planning System, improved internal wireless, satellite, and radio communications, and: A Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) with audible alerts like “roll left,” “pull up!” etc. Link-16, for a common tactical picture shared with other ships and aircraft; A “SAASM EGI” Embedded GPS Inertial Navigation System with better resistance to countermeasures; Upgrades to the Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system via Mode 5 IFF’s much improved algorithm, encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and the ability to see individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of Mode S assigns a discrete ‘squawk’ which is unique to that aircraft. Together, they improve combat identification and enable unrestricted flight in civilian airspace. Upgrades planned after 2010 include electronic surveillance capabilities (Copperfield 2 ELINT and Dragonfly COMINT), integration of conventional 70mm and APKWS-II laser-guided rockets into MH-60R and MH-60S Block 3s, and other improvements in their anti-submarine capability. The other component of note is a project called “Hawklink,” which aims to improve the helicopters’ Common Data Link. Why does Hawklink matter? In a word, bandwidth. MH-60R and SH-60B Seahawks currently send data across the C-band microwave frequency range. Using the Ku band and the high definition SAU 07000 Ship Air Upgrade interface will create point-to-point Internet-equivalent connectivity between the MH-60R and the ship, enabling both to publish and subscribe for information. That would allow a ship or strike group to request specific data from the helicopter, simultaneously receive streaming imagery and other messages, and capture ever greater levels of detail about multiple targets. While the USA is looking for ongoing upgrades, some countries are more interested in downgrades. In 2011, reports surfaced of a planned “MH-60R Lite” variant, which would make the ALFS dipping sonar a removable option. That would improve its range, and increase cabin space from 3 people to 8, at the expense of limiting its anti-submarine capability without ALFS. Lockheed Martin is even contemplating a version that also removes the sonobuoy launcher and acoustic processors, leaving a helicopter with just surface attack, search and rescue, and utility helicopter capabilities. It would really be more of an MH-60S+, with an advanced maritime radar and other electronics improvements. Initial production MH-60Rs were delivered to U.S. Navy training squadron HSM-41, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, CA. The first MH-60R operational squadron was the HSM-71 “Raptors,” also based at NAS North Island in San Diego, CA. The squadron stood up in October 2007, and made their first deployment in April 2009 as part of the USS John C. Stennis [CVN 74] aircraft carrier strike group. Blue Collar Sierra: The MH-60S 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. There was a fair bit of discussion about renaming it the “MH-60S Knighthawk” in honor of its predecessor, a move that would also have distinguished it from the MH-60R Seahawk; indeed, several official Navy releases featured this nomenclature. Unfortunately, the Navy decided to add type confusion to the special forces nomenclature confusion by referring to both MH-60 helicopters as “Seahawks.” With the addition of the MH-60S program, the U.S. Navy will become an all H-60 helicopter fleet. Its roles will encompass troop transport, search and rescue, and other standard roles. The ‘Sierras’ will also become the Navy’s primary mine countermeasures platform. The US Marines, in contrast, are scheduled to replace their CH-46Es with MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. If the Navy continues to decline investment in 48 HV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft of its own for combat search and rescue, special warfare, and fleet logistics support duties, the MH-60S will formally add its already-emerging assignment as the primary naval helicopter for those roles. The US Navy expects to buy 275 MH-60S helicopters: 50 Block 1, 225 Block 3, with all Block 2s scheduled for retrofit Initial MH-60S deliveries are Block 1 aircraft with glass cockpits and data buses, but little specialized mission equipment. They appear to be destined for supply, utility, and training roles only, as they will be the only helicopters without Link 16’s common tactical picture capability at the program’s end. Structurally strengthened Block 2A and B helicopters added the “common console,” an auxiliary fuel tank, and the ability to carry the Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) kit. Link 16 will be backfit into existing Block 2 aircraft after its introduction in Block 3B, allowing the automated transmission of a common tactical picture shared with other ships and aircraft. This will convert MH-60S Block 2As into Block 2Bs. The US Navy plans to buy a total of 66 AMCM ancillary kits. These new MH-60S AMCM helicopters will eventually have 5 mine-hunting systems available to them:  towed AN/AQS-20 sonar,  OASIS acoustic/magnetic minesweeper,  AMNS remotely piloted anti-mine torpedo delivery,  ALMDS mine-detecting laser and  RAMICS 30mm mine-detonating cannon with super-cavitating ammunition. This will give the MH-60S the ability to sweep for mines from any ship, a capability that is presently found only in the much larger MH-53E Sea Dragon dedicated mine sweeping helicopters. MH-60S AMCM helicopters will also have some secondary anti-submarine detection and prosecution capability. MH-60S Block 3A aircraft are slated to add armament kits, including an AN/AAS-44C electro-optical turrets similar to those mounted on existing SH-60 and HH-60 Seahawks; integration for Hellfire anti-armor missiles (8) or DAGR laser-guided rockets (32); .50 caliber (GAU-21/M3M) and 7.62 mm (M240B) machine guns. Other changes include IMDS prognostics for key mechanical areas, a Digital Map System, and kneeboard and floor armor. These helicopters will receive Link 16 backfit upgrades as well, after this capability is introduced in Block 3B. The final MH-60S Block 3B version, which will make up the vast majority of the fleet after all retorfits are done, will begin production using SysConfig 58 software and the upgrades described above for the MH-60R “Block 2”, plus the DALS Downed Aircrew Locator System. It receives signals from survival radios and can GPS-locate them, then send voice – or quieter text messages. Additional improvements may be added over time, and some of the helicopter’s sub-systems like AMCM can also be expected to evolve. The MH-60R/S Program With the Reagan defense build-up receding into history, the US Navy believed that technology advances offered the prospect of integrating greater capabilities into each machine, without having to spend much on R&D. Unlike new-design, new-materials projects like the EH101 and NH90 in Europe, or Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk (CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter) on order for Canada, the US Navy decided that enhancing the proven H-60 Seahawk design would be the most cost-effective recapitalization option. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”). Each program is currently set within the 5-year MYP-VII multi-year procurement deal that runs from FY 2007-2012, and also includes US Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and foreign military sales. The MH-60R is under an initial deal following full-rate production authorization, while the MH-60S’ MYP-VII totals represent a production extension. The US Navy originally planned to field 254 MH-60R “Romeo” helicopters, but that figure was officially raised to 300 in April 2010, with production now set to end in 2018. The Navy’s deployment plan will do away with existing Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons, while fielding a total of 23 squadrons: 19 Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadrons (HSM) squadrons, 2 HSM training squadrons, and 2 Test & Evaluation squadrons. The HSMs will include 10 Carrier Strike Group squadrons with 11 MH-60Rs each, 8 Expeditionary squadrons with 8-14 each, and the HSM-60 reserve squadron with 7 MH-60Rs. Training squadrons will include HSM-40 with 19 helicopters, and HSM-41 with 23. Test & Evaluation squadrons VX-1 and HX-21 will each receive 7 MH-60Rs. As of September 2011, the US Navy has received 107 MH-60Rs. Total MH-60R acquisition costs are expected to be approximately $12 billion over the life of the program, and include the cost of government-furnished equipment (radar, avionics, ground-maintenance equipment, training materials, etc.) and secondary contractors like Lockheed Martin, as well as the cost of the helicopters themselves. MH-60R production for the US Navy is scheduled to end in 2018, but an export success in Australia seems set to extend it a bit, and more foreign orders will keep the line open longer. When fully deployed, the Navy will field 275 MH-60S “Sierra” helicopters in 23 squadrons – 16 Active, 3 test, 2 Reserve and 2 Training squadrons, with 40 aircraft in the training squadrons. There will also be MH-60S helicopters in each of 5 Search and Rescue (SAR) stations around the USA. As of September 2011, Sikorsky has delivered 201 MH-60S helicopters to the US Navy. Barring additional foreign orders beyond Thailand (2), production is slated to end in 2016. MH-60R/S Budgets Budgeted program amounts for each helicopter type break down as follow. RDT&E stands for “Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation,” and “procurement” also includes long-lead time materials for subsequent years’ production: Editorial note: the MH-60 helicopters have a wide variety of ancillary equipment. The rule we use here at DID is that if it’s not an integral part of operating the helicopter, we cover it separately. Flight trainers and maintenance are an integral part of operating the helicopter, so they’re covered. A weapon or other switch-in item is not integral. The MH-60S’ AMCM mine countermeasures set is an example of switch-in optional gear – though modifying the helicopters to be able to accept the AMCM components is covered, because that aspect is integral. The exception is the MH-60R’s ALFS dipping sonar system, which we do cover separately. It’s normally inseparable from the MH-60R, but a proposed variant could make it a removable option. Note that for some integral items, like the MTS surveillance and targeting turrets, it isn’t always possible to connect every order with the MH-60. Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD. The exception is new helicopters, which are now being bought under a multi-year joint contract managed by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) at Redstone Arsenal, AL. FY 2012 MH-60R w. ALFS (click to view full) April 5/12: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $1.05 billion contract modification, finalizing the MH-60R/ MH-60S’ 2012-2016 mission avionics system/ common cockpit advance acquisition contract to a firm-fixed-price, multiyear contract. These mission avionics systems and common cockpits will equip MH-60R production lots 10-14, and MH-60S production lots 14-17, with integrated logistic support provided alongside. A number of buys had already occurred under this contract for MH-60R Lots 10-11, and MH-60S Lots 14-15. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (58%); Farmingdale, NY (25%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, Texas (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and other locations inside the United States (1%). Work is expected to be completed in June 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0020). March 15/12: Rockwell Collins, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA received a $6.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option to provide AN/ARC-210V electronic radio and ancillary equipment: 48 RT-1990C/ARC receiver-transmitters for the MH-60R, and 28 RT-1990C/ARC receiver-transmitters for MH-60S. Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is expected to be complete in September 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-C-0069). March 13/12: Australia. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT received a $27.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for the “advanced procurement funding services in support of the Royal Australia Navy MH-60R program.” Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 13/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003). Dec 29/11: Australia. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $103.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Australia. It covers common cockpit and mission avionics to equip 24 MH-60R helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy, including non-recurring engineering, program support, and associated efforts required for the production and delivery. See also Dec 2/11 entry; the combined value is $188.6 million (abut A$ 185 million). Work will be performed in Owego, NY (95%), Farmingdale, NY (4%), and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be completed in July 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-09-G-0005). Dec 28/11: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $24 million firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract modification. They’ll provide FY 2012 long-lead material and “end of life components” (spares) for MH-60S Production Lot 14 and MH-60R Lot 10 common cockpits, and specialized MH-60R Lot 10 mission electronics. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (57%); Farmingdale, NY (26%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%), and is expected to be complete in February 2012 (N00019-11-C-0020). Dec 14/11: AVET Trainer. The first US Navy MH-60S Aircrew Virtual Environmental Trainer (AVET) is installed and ready at NAS North Island near San Diego, CA. The Navy has had “TOFT” simulators for pilots since Oct 6/06, but this is a stand-alone, reconfigurable, full-motion simulator to train aerial gunnery, search and rescue, cargo replenishment, confined area landings, and emergency procedures for the MH-60S and HH-60H. Binghamton Simulator Company in Binghamton, NY developed AVET under Navy SBIR funding, working with experts from PMA-205 and the US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL. Its big difference from other simulators is that instead of a large, expensive screen, it uses a strap-on helmet mounted visor for each student. This allows multiple students to train on cooperative tasks like these, while enjoying full 360 degree simulation, at an affordable cost. The longer-term goal will network AVET trainers with pilot TOFTs, allowing full-crew mission rehearsals that don’t have to fly expensive helicopters. US NAVAIR. Dec 14/11: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $72.2 million firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract modification. They’ll provide FY 2013 long-lead material and associated efforts for MH-60S Production Lot 15 and MH-60R Lot 11 common cockpits, and specialized MH-60R Lot 11 mission electronics. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (57%); Farmingdale, NY (26%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2012 (N00019-11-C-0020). Dec 12/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives a $10.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to integrate an improved ALFS sonar Digital Transducer Assembly into MH-60Rs, as Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 6515-E-022, Part II. Work will include engineering, highly accelerated life test, and integrated logistics services. Work will be performed in Brest, France (64%), and Portsmouth, RI (36%), and is expected to be complete in October 2012 (N00019-08-G-0013). Dec 2/11: Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY receives an $85.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for work at both ends of the MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems and common cockpit life-cycle. It includes both long-lead materials to begin building cockpits, and “end-of-life components” so the Australians have enough of certain items to support their 24 Royal Australian Navy MH-60Rs. Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (53%); Owego, NY (32%); Ciudad Real, Spain (5%); Victor, NY (4%); St. Charles, MO (3%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Windsor Locks, CT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be complete in March 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract, as the agent of their Foreign Military Sale client (N00019-11-C-0020). Nov 4/11: MH-60R Lite. Australian Defence Magazine reports that Lockheed Martin is self-funding development of an “MH-60R Lite” variant, which would make the ALFS dipping sonar a removable option. That would improve its range, and increase cabin space from 3 people to 8, at the expense of limiting its anti-submarine capability without ALFS. Lockheed Martin is even contemplating a version that also removes the sonobuoy launcher and acoustic processors, leaving a helicopter with just surface attack, search and rescue, and utility helicopter capabilities. It would really be more of an MH-60S+, with an advanced maritime radar and other electronics improvements. Australia is already set to buy standard MH-60Rs, but Denmark has reportedly been briefed on the project (vid. Sept 8/09, Dec 2/10 entries). They bought AW101 helicopters for the search and rescue role, but a September 2008 Parliamentary report It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. 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