By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | September 10, 2013
The U.S. Navy believes that there is potentially a good international second-hand market for its Sikorsky SH-60Fs as modern MH-60R/S aircraft replace them. That may be right as the first customer, the Spanish Navy, has confirmed an order for two (although it had been considering buying up to six SH-60Fs in 2010).
The attraction for foreign military sales (FMS) customers is that they would be getting a relatively modern marinized naval helicopter with folding main rotors and a folding tail, but with only 7,000 to 8,000 hours flown on airframes designed to have a life of 14,000 hours.
Michael Sears, NAVAIR’s H-60 international deputy program manager, states that any FMS customer for the SH-60F will have access to “the total package approach” that customers buying the MH-60R/S are offered, namely a support program offering training, maintenance and support planning, and a spares program.
Sears added that countries that are currently fiscally challenged in their defense spending and who are not implementing a significant technological upgrade across their fleets could consider the SH-60Fs. New engines, avionics and other mission systems can be added to improve on an existing capability. However, Sears asserts that there is a point at which it is better to buy a new MH-60R/S than an SH-60F.
Including the Spanish purchase, Sears states that there are 14 SH-60Fs currently available, with the possibility of under 100 more to come from the U.S. Navy over the next few years.
Currently 166 MH-60Rs have been delivered to the U.S. Navy comprising 13 dedicated squadrons, with a further six MH-60R squadrons to be equipped by 2018. Sikorsky is currently producing around 35 MH-60Rs per year. In terms of the MH-60S, 233 helicopters have been delivered from a program of record of 275 aircraft. Two FMS program MH-60S helicopters have already been delivered to the Royal Thai Navy.
Related: Procurement News