Wednesday, August 1, 2012
International Naval Interest Grows for Sikorsky MH-60R/S
Following the first foreign military sales (FMS) of 24 Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60Rs to the Australian Navy in the summer 2011, as well as two MH-60 Sierras to the Royal Thai Navy in August—a deal stated at the time to be worth around $3.2 billion—Mike Sears, director of international programs, MH-60R/S Seahawk stated at the Farnborough Airshow that further potential customers now include the navies of Korea (R), Denmark (R), Qatar (R/S), Saudi Arabia (R/S) and India. The total Seahawk MH-60R/S program of record for the U.S. Navy is 575 aircraft, comprising 275 MH-60S (with 213 already delivered as of June 5, 2012). There have been 130 MH-60R helicopters delivered to the Navy (as of June 18). Nine dedicated MH-60R squadrons are already operating with the U.S. Navy with a further 19 Squadrons still to be equipped by 2018.
Although the maximum production capacity for MH-60Rs is set at 35 aircraft, according to Sears there is an international capacity to produce 24 helicopters annually. In terms of the MH-60S there is a production capacity of 48 aircraft per year.
The two types have already logged 130,000 hours at sea and improvements are being introduced steadily. “Since IOC in 2006 there have been three individual spiral upgrades,” said Sears. “With the confirmed program of record the price the overall price point has been dropped by well over 10 percent,” he confirmed. This saving could be passed on to international customers, he continued.
The U.S. MH-60R/S roadmap includes the acoustic, radar and weapons upgrades and the main mission computer upgrades will be completed in time for the Australian Navy deliveries. There is also work being done on a laser mine detection system for the MH-60S which could be mounted on the side of the aircraft and could detect near-surface mines.