The MH-60R helicopters have been selected by the navies of the United States, Denmark, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Indian Navy will be the latest user
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
The Indian Navy's first MH-60R production helicopter conducted its maiden flight in Owego, New York in April 2021. The flight was carried out at Lockheed Martin’s Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) plant. In February 2020, India and the US had signed a deal for the procurement of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Indian Navy. Under the $2.12 billion deal, 24 x MH-60R Seahawk helicopters will be purchased. Delivery of the first six is expected to take place within 2021.
America’s Sikorsky Aircraft (now part of Lockheed Martin) developed the MH-60R Seahawk multi-mission naval helicopter, also called ‘Romeo’, in order to replace the US Navy's legacy SH-60B and SH-60F helicopter fleet. Developed from a SH-60B, the first MH-60R helicopter made its first flight in July 2001. The first two new-build MH-60Rs were delivered to the US Navy in August 2005. The first Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 equipped with MH-60Rs was established by the US Navy at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, San Diego, in October 2007. The US Navy received the 200th MH-60R in November 2014.
Under the $2.12 billion deal, 24 x MH-60R Seahawk helicopters will be purchased. Delivery of the first six is expected to take place within 2021.
Presently, the US Navy is the main operator of the MH-60R with 289 units in its fleet. In 2019, the US State Department approved export of the MH-60R to ROK Navy (South Korea) as well as for the Hellenic Navy. In August 2020, Sikorsky Australia won a through-life sustainment support contract for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R helicopters. So far, the MH-60R helicopters have been selected by the navies of the United States, Denmark, Australia and Saudi Arabia. Indian Navy will be the latest user.
The MH-60R integrates advanced mission systems and sensors developed by Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training (MST). The fully Integrated Mission System builds complete situational awareness and actionable knowledge, enabling target engagement both close-in and over-the-horizon. The helicopter can be launched from aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruise ships, frigates and amphibious ships.
The helicopter can be launched from aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruise ships, frigates and amphibious ships
This MH-60R helicopter incorporates new Telephonics APS-147 multimode radar, which employs inverse synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) technique to perform imaging and periscope detection at short/long ranges. The rotorcraft utilises Raytheon-developed AN/AQS-22 airborne low-frequency sonar (ALFS) subsystem for littoral and underwater warfare missions. The ALFS subsystem is integrated with a dipping sonar and sonobuoy processing capability. The Advanced ALQ-210 electronic support measures (ESM) system is also installed to detect, locate and identify threats. It is complemented by an ESM autoloader and the development of mission data loads.
A second generation AAS-44 forward-looking infrared (FLIR) electro-optical (EO) system onboard the MH-60R provides increased surveillance of the battlefield during low light conditions. It also offers Hellfire targeting capability. The helicopter is integrated with a data link for data transmission, an ARC210 Gen 5 multi-function radio for flexible and secure communication, and chaff and flare decoys dispenser. It also features an integrated self-defence system for protection against RF, IF, laser and missile threats.
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopters will replace the Indian Navy’s ageing Sea King and Kamov helicopters and will provide the Navy flexibility to undertake a range of missions
For armament, the MH-60R helicopter can be armed with Mk 54 lightweight torpedoes for ASW missions. It can carry a number of weapons, including eight Hellfire anti-surface missiles and .50 calibre guns for ASuW missions. Offensive capabilities are improved by the addition of new Mk 54 air-launched torpedoes and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. However, the armament package for the MH-60R Seahawks being procured by India is still being negotiated. The Indian Navy MH-60R weapons package is expected to include Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile in its helicopter launched variant (known as NSM-HL).
The MH-60R Seahawk helicopters will replace the Indian Navy’s ageing Sea King and Kamov helicopters. The MH-60R will provide the Navy flexibility to undertake a range of missions like anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), surveillance, communications relay, search and rescue (SAR), naval gunfire support (NGFS), personnel transport, vertical replenishment (VERTREP) and logistics support. With China’s aggressive moves in waters of the Indo-Pacific, the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) is fast becoming the centre of gravity of conflict. Additionally, China and Turkey are both assisting Pakistan to increase its naval power. The addition of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters with a range of over 700 km will help boost the combat power of the Indian Navy.