August 5, 2005 The first new production Sikorsky MH-60R took to the skies last week indicating the next phase of naval helicopter warfare is about to begin. The MH-60R is the next generation submarine hunter and surface attack helicopter and will replace the US fleet's legacy SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft. The Navy is expected to order as many as 254 MH-60R aircraft through 2015, with production quantities increasing to 30 aircraft per year.
The first production aircraft flew a total of 1.5 hours and performed the entire flight acceptance profile, which included flight control checks, vibration measurements and engine power checks, without incident.
"The first flight of the Romeo is both exciting and indicative of the momentum this program has picked up towards getting into full rate production. It marks another milestone on the way to what so many people in the Navy, and at Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have worked so hard to achieve," said Len Wengler, vice president of Maritime Programs at Sikorsky Aircraft.
Lockheed Martin is the mission systems integrator for the MH-60R, and also provides the digital Common Cockpit avionics suite, which is common to all MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters. Sikorsky designs and manufactures the MH-60S and MH-60R aircraft and is responsible for the mechanical and electrical modifications on the airframe.
"We are eagerly awaiting the arrival later this month of the first new production MH-60R helicopter at our systems integration facility in Owego, NY, where we will begin installation of the aircraft's integrated mission systems," said Jeff Bantle, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin's Multi-Mission Solutions business unit. "This first aircraft also is important as a symbol of the enduring 30-year relationship between Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky and the U.S. Navy to develop helicopter weapons systems that keep vigilant watch over the Fleet."
Test MH-60R aircraft have been in Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) since May. Designed as a rigorous assessment of the aircraft and its mission systems in operational flight conditions, OPEVAL is the aircraft's final test phase before fleet introduction and delivery. The aircraft successfully completed the Navy's six-month-long developmental test phase, known as Technical Evaluation, in February.
MH-60R aircraft will operate from the Navy's frigates, destroyers, aircraft carriers and cruisers performing Under Sea Warfare (USW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) missions currently conducted by the SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft.