The decision by the Danish Ministry of Defence to purchase nine MH-60R helicopters from the Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin team has underlined again how strong the belief is in the international naval community in MH-60R/S helicopter. The order is valued at around $686 million with the first three aircraft expected for delivery during 2016 and last aircraft by 2018. The existing eight Lynx Mk90Bs will begin to be replaced from 2017.
The Danish requirement is one that is mindful of a greater role than just the maritime mission. Although the standard roles of maritime surveillance, search and rescue, and fisheries protection will be carried out from the Karup base—home to Denmark’s Tactical Air Command and Army Operational Command—the Navy will also deploy the aircraft on its Thetis class patrol vessels which range into the environmentally challenging seas around Greenland, the Faroe Islands and off the Arctic. Further consideration was its potential contribution to land-based operations, interoperability with other NATO and regional allies, together with logistics, training and future upgrades.
Maj. Gen. Flemming Lentfer of the MoD staff said the selection represented the best choice for the Danish armed forces. The competition included AgustaWestland’s AW159 Wildcat and the Eurocopter’s AS565 MB Panther, although the latter was eliminated at the beginning of 2012.
The U.S. Navy currently operates around 144 MH-60Rs out of a total requirement of 291, according to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). In June 2011, the Australian Navy decided to acquire 24 MH-60Rs with handover of the first two aircraft set for 2014.