"The significance of this event is particularly noteworthy because the program went from the drawing board to fleet introduction in just a few years," said Paul Martin, Sikorsky's Senior Vice President for Government and Advanced Development Programs. "The aircraft was initially fielded simultaneously in three separate locations and has exhibited exemplary readiness and safety records."
MH-60S fleet combat support helicopters are serving the U.S. Navy around the world. Many of the aircraft supported Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition, MH-60S crews have won numerous Sikorsky Winged-S Rescue Awards, continuing a tradition dating from 1950.
The MH-60S will provide flexibility for reconfiguration, serving in combat search and rescue as well as providing Naval Special Warfare support to joint theater operations. The helicopter will anchor the fleet logistics role in carrier strike group and amphibious ready group operations.
Along with its counterpart, the Sikorsky MH-60R, the MH-60S will form the basis for the Navy's Helicopter Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and will replace all other existing Navy helicopters by 2010. Together, the aircraft will provide a full array of maritime helicopter capabilities, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW), medevac, logistics, Combat Search And Rescue, and Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM).
The MH-60S is a baseline BLACK HAWK configuration with SEAHAWK engines, rotor system and dynamic components, including the SEAHAWK's automatic rotor blade folding system, folding tail pylon, improved durability gearbox, rotor brake and automatic flight control computer. This aircraft is the latest in the H-60 family of aircraft whose ruggedness, survivability and versatility have made the H-60 the world's standard utility helicopter.
In September 2002, the U.S. Navy granted the MH-60S helicopter program a Milestone III Full Rate Production Decision authorizing the Navy's purchase of up to 271 MH-60S aircraft. The Navy has already ordered 119 aircraft and 64 helicopters have been delivered as of April 2004.
The MH-60S is currently flying with ship-based detachments from five Navy squadrons located in Guam, San Diego, and Norfolk, Va.
Sikorsky designs and manufactures the MH-60S and MH-60R aircraft and is responsible for the mechanical and electrical modifications to the airframe. Lockheed Martin is the systems integrator for the MH-60R and provides the cockpit, which is common to all MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), of Hartford, Conn., is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of advanced helicopters for commercial, industrial and military uses.