This week we have learned about one of the new acquisitions that Spain will make in defense matters, specifically for the Navy.
The Spanish Navy will receive eight MH-60R
This Tuesday, April 18, the Council of Ministers approved the purchase of eight Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, stating the following in this regard: "The basic purpose of this program is the acquisition of eight multipurpose naval helicopters, model 'Multi-Misssion Multi -Role Helicopter' (MH-60R). The amount of this project amounts to 820,515,490.36 euros and affects the annuities between 2023 and 2029."
The current fleet of SH-60 Seahawks of the Spanish Navy
The raison d'être of this new acquisition is to replace the older helicopters in the SH-60 Seahawk fleet of the Spanish Navy, made up of 20 units in total: 12 SH-60B (6 from the initial variant and another 6 of the Block I variant) and 8 SH-60F purchased from the United States Navy for transport missions. The first six SH-60Bs arrived in Spain on December 2, 1988, being part of the 10th Squadron of the Navy Aircraft Flotilla.
The six SH-60B Block I were received by the 10th Squadron of the Spanish Navy in October 2002. After their arrival, the initial six SH-60Bs were upgraded to the Block I Core B version, in order to have a homogeneous fleet. The Spanish Navy usually operates these helicopters from its frigates, both the "Santa María" class (F-80) and the "Álvaro de Bazán" class (F-100).
This is the MH-60R multimission helicopter
The development of the MH-60R began in 1999 from the SH-60B. Outwardly they are very similar. The difference between the initials of both helicopters indicates their capabilities: in US Navy aircraft designations, SH is assigned to helicopters whose primary mission is anti-submarine warfare (such as the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite, the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King and the aforementioned SH-60 Seahawk), while the initials MH are assigned to multi-mission helicopters.
The main difference between the SH-60B and the MH-60R will be noticed by the crew members. While most of the SH-60B's instruments are analog, the MH-60's cockpit 60R has four large color multifunction displays to control the various on-board systems. That will make navigation much easier for your pilots. In addition, these screens are compatible with night vision goggles.
In addition, the MH-60R includes advanced digital sensors with a multi-mode radar, an electronic back-up measurement system, an electro-optical/infrared camera including FLIR and laser rangefinder, data links, survivability systems from aircraft, immersion sonar and sonobuoys (the latter was already available on the SH-60B, with its launchers located on the port side).
Lockheed Martin highlights that the MH-60R's fully integrated mission system processes sensor data "to build a complete situational picture of the ocean surface and subsea domain", so that the crew can "track, target and engage ships or submarines effectively and efficiently."
The MH-60R also includes an AAR-47 missile approach warning system, an ALE-39 anti-missile decoy dispenser, and an AN/ALQ-144 airborne infrared jammer against missiles heat driven. Among the advantages that Lockheed Martin points out for this helicopter is that it achieves 95% availability for flight, an excellent figure which is explained by easier maintenance for mechanics.
As for weapons, the MH-60R can launch Mark 54 MAKO anti-submarine torpedoes (a type of weapon with which Spain will equip its future F-110 frigates) and air-to-surface missiles AGM- 114 Hellfire , in addition to small arms in the right door of the helicopter. Due to these capabilities, the US Navy - which has operated the MH-60R since 2006 - has renamed its former SH-60B-equipped Anti-Submarine Light Squadrons (HSL) as Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadrons (HSM).
Main photo: U.S. navy. An MH-60R Seahawk of the US Navy's Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 taking off from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on May 8, 2018.
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