|SH-60 / HH-60H / MH-60 Seahawk|
|U.S. Navy SH-60B preparing to land on Kitty Hawk.|
|Role||Multimission maritime helicopter|
|First flight||12 December 1979|
|Primary users||United States Navy
Royal Australian Navy
|Developed from||Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk|
|Variants||Sikorsky HH-60 Jayhawk
The Sikorsky SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk (or Sea Hawk) is a twin turboshaft engine, multi-mission United States Navy helicopter based on the United States Army UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family. The most significant airframe modification is a hinged tail to reduce its footprint aboard ships.
The U.S. Navy uses the H-60 airframe under the model designations SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S. Able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship, or aircraft carrier, the Seahawk can handle anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). All Navy H-60s carry a rescue hoist for SAR/CSAR missions.
During the 1970s, the U.S. Navy began looking for new helicopter to replace the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite. The SH-2 Seasprite was used by the Navy as its platform for the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Mark I avionics suite for the maritime warfare and a secondary search and rescue capability. Advances in sensor and avionic technology lead to LAMPS Mk II suite, but the SH-2 was not large enough to carry the Navy's required equipment. In the mid-1970s, the Army was evaluating of the Sikorsky YUH-60 and Boeing-Vertol YUH-61 for its Utility Tactical Transport Aircraft System (UTTAS) competition.
The Navy based its requirements on the Army's UTTAS specification to decrease costs from commonality. Sikorsky and Boeing-Vertol submitted proposals for Navy versions of their Army UTTAS helicopters in April 1977 for review. The Navy also looked at helicopters being produced by Bell, Kaman, Westland and MBB, but these were too small for the mission. In early 1978 the Navy selected Sikorsky's S-70B design, which was designated "SH-60B Seahawk".
The SH-60B maintained 83% commonality with the UH-60A. The main changes were corrosion protection, more powerful T700 engines, single-stage oleo main landing gear, replacing left side door with fuselage structure, adding two weapon pylons, and shifting the tail landing gear 13 feet (3.96 m) forward to reduce the footprint for shipboard landing. Other changes included larger fuel cells, an electric blade folding system, folding horizontal stabilators for storage, and adding a 25-tube pneumatic sonobuoy launcher on left side. An emergency flotation system was also originally installed in the stub wing fairings of the main landing gear on both sides of the aircraft. However, this system was found to be impractical and possibly impede egress in an emergency, and the flotation gear was subsequently removed from the stub wings.
Five YSH-60B Seahawk LAMPS III prototypes were ordered. The first flight of a YSH-60B occurred on 12 December 1979. The first production version SH-60B achieved its first flight on 11 February 1983. The SH-60B entered operational service in 1984 with first operational deployment in 1985.
The SH-60B carries a complex system of sensors including a towed Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) and air-launched sonobuoys. Other sensors include the APS-124 search radar, ALQ-142 ESM system and optional nose-mounted forward looking infrared (FLIR) turret. It carries the Mk 46, Mk 50, or Mk 54 torpedo, AGM-114 Hellfire missile, and a single cabin-door-mounted M60D/M240 7.62 mm (0.30 in) machine gun or GAU-16 .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun.
A standard crew for a SH-60B is one pilot, one ATO/Co-Pilot (Airborne Tactical Officer), and an enlisted aviation warfare systems operator (sensor operator). Operating squadrons are designated Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron, Light (HSL).
The SH-60J is a version of the SH-60B for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The SH-60K is a modified version of the SH-60J. The SH-60J and SH-60K are built under license by Mitsubishi in Japan.
After the SH-60B entered service, the Navy began development of the SH-60F to replace the SH-3 Sea King. Development of this variant began with the award of a contract to Sikorsky in March 1985. An early-model SH-60B (Bu. No. 161170) was modified to serve as a SH-60F prototype. The company was contracted to produce seven SH-60Fs in January 1986 and the first example flew on 19 March 1987.
The SH-60F primarily serves as the carrier battle group's primary antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. The helicopter hunts submarines with its AQS-13F dipping sonar, and carries a 6-tube sonobuoy launcher. The SH-60F is unofficially named "Oceanhawk". The SH-60F can carry Mk 46, Mk 50, or Mk 54 torpedoes for its offensive weapons, and it has a choice of fuselage-mounted machine guns, including the M60D, M240D, and GAU-16 (.50 caliber) for self-defense. The standard aircrew consists of one pilot, one co-pilot, one tactical sensor operator (TSO), and one acoustic sensor operator (ASO).
The HH-60H was developed beginning in September 1986 with a contract for the first five helicopters. The variant's first flight occurred on 17 August 1988. The HH-60H was developed in conjunction with the US Coast Guard's HH-60J. Deliveries of the HH-60H began in 1989. The variant earned initial operating capability in April 1990. The HH-60H's official DoD and Sikorsky name is Seahawk, though it has been called "Rescue Hawk".
Based on the SH-60F, the HH-60H is the primary combat search and rescue (CSAR), naval special warfare (NSW) and anti-surface warfare (ASUW) helicopter. It carries a variety of defensive and offensive sensors making it one of the most survivable helicopters in the world. Sensors include a FLIR turret with laser designator and the Aircraft Survival Equipment (ASE) package including the ALQ-144 Infrared Jammer, AVR-2 Laser Detectors, APR-39(V)2 Radar Detectors, AAR-47 Missile Launch Detectors and ALE-47 chaff/flare dispensers. Additionally, airframe improvements in engine exhaust deflectors provide infrared thermal reduction reducing the threat of heat-seeking missiles. The HH-60H can carry up to four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles on an extended wing using the M299 launcher and a variety of cabin and port window mounted guns including M60D, M240, GAU-16 and GAU-17/A machine guns.
The HH-60H's standard crew is pilot, copilot, an enlisted crew chief, and two door gunners. The HH-60H is operated by Helicopter Antisubmarine (HS) squadrons with a standard dispersal of four F-models and three H-models. In Iraq, HH-60Hs were used by the Navy, assisting the Army, for MEDEVAC purposes and special operations missions. As the Navy transitions its Helicopter Antisubmarine (HS) squadrons to the MH-60S, remaining HH-60Hs are being transferred to its East and West coast special operations squadrons (HSC-84 and HSC-85, respectively).
The MH-60R was originally referred to as "LAMPS Mark III Block II Upgrade" when it began development in 1993. Two SH-60Bs were converted by Sikorsky for the project. The first modified SH-60 made its maiden flight on 22 December 1999. These conversions, designated YSH-60R, were delivered to NAS Patuxent River in 2001 for flight testing. The production variant was redesignated MH-60R to match its multi-mission capability.
The MH-60R is designed to combine the features of the SH-60B and SH-60F. Its sensors include the ASE package, MTS-FLIR, the AN/APS-147 multi-mode radar/IFF interrogator, an advanced airborne fleet data link, and a more advanced airborne active sonar. It does not carry the MAD suite. Pilot instrumentation is based on the MH-60S's glass cockpit, using several digital monitors instead of the complex array of dials and gauges in Bravo and Foxtrot aircraft. Offensive capabilities are improved by the addition of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles. All Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons that receive the Romeo are redesignated Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) squadrons.
During a mid-life technology insertion project, the navy will upgrade the radar capability of the MH-60R fleet to the AN/APS-153 Multi-Mode Radar with Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) capability.
The Navy decided to replace its venerable CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters in 1997. After sea demonstrations by a converted UH-60, the Navy awarded production contract for the CH-60S in 1998. The variant first flew in 27 January 2000 and it began flight testing later that year. The CH-60S was redesignated MH-60S in February 2001 to reflect its planned multi-mission use.
The MH-60S is based on the UH-60L and has many naval SH-60 features. Unlike all other Navy H-60s, the MH-60S is not based on the original S-70B/SH-60B platform with its forward-mounted twin tail-gear and single starboard sliding cabin door. Instead, the S-model is a hybrid, featuring the main fuselage of the S-70A/UH-60, with large sliding doors on both sides of the cabin and a single aft-mounted tail wheel; and the engines, drivetrain and rotors of the S-70B/SH-60.
It is deployed aboard aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, Maritime Sealift Command ships, and fast combat support ships. Its missions include vertical replenishment, medical evacuation, combat search and rescue, anti-surface warfare, maritime interdiction, close air support, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and special warfare support. The MH-60S is to deploy with the AQS-20A Mine Detection System and an Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) for identifying submerged objects in coastal waters. The S-model is the first US Navy helicopter to field the glass cockpit whereby the flight data information is relayed to pilots using four digital screens rather than electromechanical gauges and dials. The primary means of defense is with the M60D, M240 or GAU-17/A machine guns. A "batwing" Armed Helo Kit based on the Army's UH-60L was developed to accommodate Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 2.75 inch rockets, or larger guns. The MH-60S can be equipped with a nose mounted forward looking infrared (FLIR) turret to be used in conjunction with the Hellfire missiles and also carries the ALQ-144 Infrared Jammer.
The MH-60S is unofficially known as the "Knighthawk", reflecting its role as the designated successor of the Sea Knight, though "Seahawk" is its official DoD name. A standard crew for the MH-60S is one pilot, one copilot and two others depending on mission. With the retirement of the Sea Knight, the squadron designation of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) was also retired from the Navy. Operating MH-60S squadrons were re-designated Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC).
The MH-60S was to be used for mine clearing from the Littoral-combat ships, but testing has found it lacks the power to safely tow the detection equipment. This mission is to be assigned to a robotic boat instead.
On 6 August 2014, the U.S. Navy forward deployed the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to the U.S. 5th Fleet. The ALMDS is a sensor system designed to detect, classify, and localize floating and near-surface moored mines in littoral zones, straits, and choke points. The system is operated from an MH-60S, which gives it a countermine role traditionally handled by the MH-53E Sea Dragon, allowing smaller ships the MH-53E can't operate from to be used in the role. The ALMDS beams a laser into the water to pick up reflections from things it bounces off of, then uses that data to produce a video image for technicians on the ground to determine if the object is a mine.
|This section requires expansion with: fill in operational use and combat action. (April 2010)|
The SH-60F entered operational service on 22 June 1989 with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 10 (HS-10) at NAS North Island. SH-60F squadrons will shift from the SH-60F to the MH-60S beginning in 2009, they will be redesignated Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC).
As one of the two squadrons in the US Navy dedicated to Naval Special Warfare support and combat search and rescue preeminent, the HCS-5 Firehawks squadron deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. The squadron completed 900 combat air missions and over 1,700 combat flight hours. The majority of their flights in the Iraqi theater supported special operations ground forces missions.
A west coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41, received the MH-60R aircraft in December 2005 and began training the first set of pilots. In 2007, the R-model successfully underwent final testing for incorporation into the fleet. In August 2008, the first 11 combat-ready Romeos arrived at HSM-71, a squadron assigned to the carrier John C. Stennis. The primary missions of the MH-60R are anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. According to Lockheed Martin, "secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and communications and data relay."
HSL squadrons in the US have been incrementally transitioning to the MH-60R and have nearly completed the transition. The first MH-60Rs in Japan arrived in October of 2012. The recipient was HSM-51, the Navy's forward deployed LAMPS squadron, homebased in Atsugi, Japan. The Warlords transitioned from the SH-60B throughout 2013, and shifted each detachment to the new aircraft as they returned from deployments. HSM-51 will have all MH-60R aircraft at the end of 2013. The Warlords are joined by the Sabrehawks of HSM-77, who will also fly the MH-60R in Japan.
On 23 July 2013, Sikorsky delivered the 400th MH-60, an MH-60R Seahawk, to the U.S. Navy. The Navy operates 166 MH-60R versions and 234 MH-60S versions. The MH-60S is in production until 2015 and will total a fleet of 275 aircraft, and the MH-60R is in production until 2017 and will total a fleet of 291 aircraft. The two models have flown 660,000 flight hours. Seahawk helicopters are to remain in Navy service into the 2030s.
Australia requested approval to buy 24 MH-60Rs through a Foreign Military Sale in July 2010. The MH-60R and the NHIndustries NH90 were evaluated by the Royal Australian Navy. On 16 June 2011, it was announced that Australia would purchase 24 of the MH-60R variant, to come into service between 2014 to 2020. The helicopter selected is to replace older Seahawks currently in service.
The Royal Danish Navy (RDN) put the MH-60R on a short list for a requirement of around 12 new naval helicopters, together with the NH90/NFH, H-92, AW159 and AW101. The Request For Proposal was issued on 30 September 2010. In November 2010, Denmark requested approval for a possible purchase of 12 MH-60Rs through a Foreign Military Sale. In November 2012, Denmark selected 9 MH-60Rs to replace its 7 aging Lynx helicopters.
In July 2009, the Republic of Korea requested eight MH-60S helicopters, 16 GE T700-401C engines, and related sensor systems to be sold in a Foreign Military Sale. However, South Korea instead chose the AW159 in January 2013. In July 2010 Tunisia requested 12 refurbished SH-60Fs through a Foreign Military Sale. But the change in government there in January 2011 may interfere with an order.
In February 2011, India rejected the possible Foreign Military Sale of 16 MH-60Rs. Instead, India is considering the S-70B and the NHIndustries NH90 for an acquisition of 16 multirole helicopters for the Indian Navy to replace its aging Westland Sea King fleet. India selected the Seahawk for procurement in November 2014.
In 2011, Qatar requested a potential Foreign Military Sale of up to 6 MH-60R helicopters, engines and other associated equipment. In late June 2012, Qatar requested another 22 Seahawks, 12 fitted with the armed helicopter modification kit and T700-401C engines with an option to purchase an additional six Seahawks and more engines.
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