As a result of the Navy's Helicopter Master Plan program, the decision was made to reduce the number of helicopter types then in service with the Navy from seven to two. Under the HMP, the missions and capabilities of the Navy's primary ASW helicopters, the SH-60B and the SH-60F, would be combined into a single airframe, the MH-60R Seahawk.
Beginning in 1998, existing SH-60B/F helicopters were to be rebuilt to the new MH-60R standard, which, in addition to equipping them with more advanced systems, as well as the MH-60 common "glass cockpit" design, would also increase the aircraft life by an additional 10,000 hours. Unfortunately, concerns over cost caused this idea to be dropped in 2000 after seven remanufactured aircraft were ordered, with all subsequent MH-60R helicopters entering service as new build airframes. The Navy has requested a total of 252 MH-60Rs, with complete delivery by 2015.
The first production MH-60R was delivered to the Navy (HSL-41) in December of 2005. Though the Navy is currently taking delivery of new MH-60R aircraft, the Seahawk "Romeo" is not expected to go operational in the fleet until 2008.
Airframe and general capabilities
The MH-60R Seahawk is a twin-engined medium lift utility helicopter configured for ASW operations. It is equipped with a single 4-bladed rotor and a single 4-bladed tail rotor. The basic crew compliment for the MH-60R is four; pilot, co-pilot/ATO, an enlisted tactical sensor operator (TSO) and an enlisted acoustic sensor operator (ASO). The MH-60R can accommodate 3 additional passengers in a personnel transport capacity.
The MH-60R was designed to encompass all the mission responsibilities and system capabilities of both the SH-60B and SH-60F helicopters. As such its responsibilities include Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti-Ship Surveillance and Targeting (ASST), VRETREP (vertical replenishment), communications relay, CSAR, and SOFS (special operations forces support.)
Externally, the MH-60R is very similar in appearance to the SH-60B. The Seahawk "Romeo" is equipped with a reward sliding and lockable door on the right side of the cargo compartment with an externally mounted 600-pound rescue hoist located above this door. As with the earlier Seahawks, the Romeo is equipped with a centrally mounted external cargo hook rated to 6,000 pounds. External weapons and auxiliary systems are mounted on a pair of weapon pylons mounted aft of the cargo/crew compartment. The right-hand wing will accommodate a single weapon or external fuel tank, while the left-hand pylon will accommodate two weapons.
The MH-60R utilizes the same shortened and reinforced landing gear arrangement as the SH-60B. In addition, like the SH-60B, the Romeo is RAST (Recovery, Assist, Secure, and Traversing) equipped, which enables the Seahawk to be recovered in sea state 5 (33 kt. winds, 13' swells, 6 degrees of pitch, 15 degrees of roll) conditions. The Romeo is capable of hovering, in-flight refueling and for shipboard storage the Seahawk features an automated main rotor blade folding system and manually folding tailplane.
The MH-60R carries 25 sonobuoys which are ejected pneumatically from the left hand side of the helicopter.
The Romeo is equipped with a 360-degree surface search radar located in an enclosed fairing underneath the nose of the aircraft, between the front wheels.
As with the MH-60S Knighthawk the MH-60R uses the MH-60 common "glass cockpit" design which was introduced with the UH-60L. This system replaces most of the analog aircraft instruments with four active matrix liquid crystal color displays and dual programmable operator keysets. In addition, the cockpit is fully NVG compatible, which will enable the aircrew to effectively operate the helicopter in low visibility conditions.
The MH-60R is equipped with two navalized General Electric T700-GE-401C variants rated to 1,800 shp. Internal fuel capacity totals 590 gallons, and the helicopter can be equipped with two pylon mounted auxiliary tanks rated to 120 gallons each.
The empty weight of the MH-60R is 13,648 pounds, while the mission take off weight is 22,420 pounds (ASW), 21,650 pounds (ASuW) and the maximum take off weight is 23,500 pounds. The external cargo carrying capacity (cargo hook) is 6,000 pounds.
The maximum level speed of the MH-60R is 136 knots (154 miles per hour) while the dash speed is 145 knots (164 miles per hour.)
The MH-60R is equipped with VHF-FM, UHF-FM, VHF-AM/FM, and SATCOM radios, as well as encrypted IFF recognition system and the LN-100G GPS/INS navigation system.
For ASW/ASuW operations, the MH-60R is equipped with an AN/APS-147 multimode surface search radar, mounted in an enclosed "button" fairing under the nose, which has 360 degrees of coverage. The Seahawk is also equipped with the AN/AQS-22 airborne low frequency dipping sonar linked to an AN/UYS-2A Enhanced Modular Signal Processor for processing acoustical data from the sonar and sonobouys.
For target acquisition and tracking, the MH-60R is equipped with an AN/AAS-44 Infrared Laser Detecting/Ranging/Tracking set.
For self defense the Seahawk is equipped with an AN/ALQ-210 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system. Though not considered standard equipment, the MH-60R can be outfitted with the AN/ALQ-144 infrared countermeasures system and the AN/ALE-39 chaff/flare dispenser.
The MH-60R is equipped with three external weapons stations, one on the right side of the aircraft, and two on the left. The Romeo can carry up to three Mk 50 Mod 0 ASW torpedoes or eight AGM-114M Hellfire anti-ship missiles. For self defense the MH-60R can be equipped with a single pintle mounted machinegun on the right hand side of the aircraft. This weapon can either be 7.62mm (M240) or .50 caliber (GAU-16/A.)