Lockheed Martin has handed over the 50th MH-60R helicopter with an equipment package designed to help protect the U. S. Navy fleet from hostile submarines and surface ships. Sikorsky built the newest member of the Seahawk family, with advanced mission systems integration from Lockheed Martin.
“I am extremely proud of the MH-60R team, which has enabled this important milestone in the Romeo’s continued introduction to the fleet,” said Rear Adm. Steve Eastburg, program executive officer air ASW, assault and special mission programs. “The enormous multimission capability of this platform continues to be leveraged by the warfighter in new and innovative ways.”
During the delivery ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors facility in Owego, N.Y., Rear Adm. Paul Grosklags, vice commander, Naval Air Systems Command, thanked Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky employees and other key suppliers. “The MH-60R has evolved over 30 years, through lessons learned during developmental testing, fleet deployments and maintenance on these rugged airframes and mission systems, in the harshest maritime environments,” said Grosklags. “It stands now as the premier multimission helicopter in operation today.”
An aircrew from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Seven Zero (HSM-70) flew the 50th aircraft from the Owego facility to its new home at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla. The aircraft is the 10th MH-60R delivered to HSM-70, which was established in February 2009.
The U.S. Navy deployed with 11 MH-60R aircraft for the first time from January to July 2009 with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) carrier strike group.
“Your [industry] efforts were validated by the HSM-71 deployment with the John C. Stennis carrier strike. This was a very successful deployment, perhaps the most successful initial deployment for an aircraft in many years,” said Grosklags. “When the Romeo deployed, every system was available to the commander on day one.”
HSM-70 will deploy with 11 MH-60R aircraft aboard the USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group (CVN 77) in 2011. To date, the Navy has established and equipped four MH-60R squadrons, with plans to fill out 16 more through the purchase of 300 aircraft.
Capt. Dean Peters, the U.S. Navy’s MH-60 program manager, said that “these highly integrated platforms are building a situational awareness picture of the surface and undersea domains that is proving invaluable to fleet operators.” Added Grosklags: “The Romeo is now the only organic ASW (antisubmarine warfare) capability in the strike group. It’s a game changer. It’s indispensable.”
As mission systems integrator for the Sikorsky-built MH-60R, Lockheed Martin is responsible for integrating the helicopter’s digital cockpit, a multi-mode radar, acoustic sonar suite, long-range infrared camera and other advanced sensors to detect, identify, track and engage surface and subsurface targets. Lockheed Martin also integrates a self-defense system to protect the aircraft from missile threats.
“The highly integrated nature of the Common Cockpit avionics suite and the mission systems allows the aircrew to spend less time interpreting data and more time prosecuting the target,” said George Barton, Lockheed Martin’s director of Naval helicopter programs.
The companies expect to deliver up to 27 missionized MH-60R aircraft in calendar year 2010 to the U.S. Navy as part of a five-year contract for 139 MH-60R aircraft through 2013. Extra production capacity exists to deliver an additional 20 aircraft each year for sale by the U.S. Government to international navies. “The MH-60R is not an incremental upgrade. The weapon system is a significant upgrade in ASW/ASuW capability over legacy aircraft. The Romeo can carry more weapons, has an important man/machine interface, vibration control and reduced overall ownership costs.” (From March 2010 Rotorcraft Report)