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Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk

Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter


The Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk has proven a capable maritime performer with several of the world's leading navies.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter.  Entry last updated on 3/18/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Sikorsky SH-60 "Seahawk" is the navalized derivative of the ubiquitous land-based UH-60 "Black Hawk" series transport helicopters. Origins of the UH-60 go as far back as the 1970s to which the helicopter recorded its first flight on November 29th, 1974 and formally entered service with the United States Army in 1979. To date, some 4,000 units have been delivered and serving across multiple military forces around the globe. The UH-60 was then adopted by the United States Navy in a navalized form with a first flight recorded on December 12th, 1979. Formal introduction into service occurred in 1984 with frontline service ongoing as of this writing (2013). The SH-60 remains the primary helicopter of the United States Navy.

While originating from the land-based UH-60, the SH-60 features over-water qualities that are required of maritime aircraft. This includes folding appendages (tail, horizontal stabilizer, collapsing main rotor) for onboard stowage, strengthened understructures for the abuses of shipborne landings and specialized coatings to protect against the corrosive effects of the salty sea air. Prior to the 1970s, the US Navy relied on their trusty Kaman SH-2 Seasprite multi-mission helicopters aboard aircraft carriers and accompanying surface ships. However, Seasprites were introduced in the late 1950s with applicable technology of the time and were soon superseded by more modern developments. As such, the situation forced the US Navy to modernize its rotary-wing fleet which included following the US Army's lead by selecting Sikorsky Model S-70 helicopter as its primary mount under the designation of SH-60 "Seahawk". The initial production versions were recognized as "SH-60B" in line with the Sikorsky S-70B model design.

The selection of the S-70 allowed for a high degree of commonality in parts between the US Army UH-60 and the US Navy SH-60 - up to 80% was common across both platforms which improved logistics and repair times and costs. The overall design appearance of the US Navy helicopter remained largely the same with its twin turboshaft layout, four-bladed main rotor and fixed wheeled undercarriage. The two-man cockpit was held well-forward in the design with good visibility (the instrument panel takes up a good deal of height) while the passenger/cargo cabin was set to the rear under the engine installations. If the S-70 design proved anything it was in its multi-mission capabilities which have since endeared the type to other world powers beyond the United States.

Unlike the Army's UH-60, the Navy's SH-60 did away with the left side sliding access door for cabin entry/exit (replaced by solid fuselage wall). Additionally, the aircraft mounted uprated turboshaft engines for more power as well as a electrically-collapsing main rotor blade (all blades collapse to the rear) assembly for a more compact footprint aboard ships. The horizontal stabilizers were also designed to fold for this same reason while the vertical tail unit swung over portside just aft of the tailwheel. The tailwheel structure was relocated forward to reduce the surface contact area aboard space-strapped ships and allow the tail to hinge. Optional wingstubs could be added to either side of the fuselage for the carrying of valuable mission equipment and weaponry.

Key to the existence of the SH-60 is support for the LAMPS (Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System) utilized by the US Navy. LAMPS is an advanced avionics package that was developed to counter enemy submarines while also supporting search and rescue (SAR) sorties. The SH-2 Seasprite utilized the original LAMPS Mk I system while the Seahawk was slated to use the more modern LAMPS Mk III series (an Mk II model was eventually abandoned).

The US Navy first contracted for five YSH-60B prototypes outfitted to specifications (including LAMPS III). After a first flight in late 1979, testing continued before production was ordered, resulting in first-batch unit availability to USN elements by 1984. Operational service officially began the following year as SH-60Bs were stationed across all manner of US Navy surface ships. Since their adoption, SH-60Bs have given stellar shipborne service.

The Seahawk is stocked with the APS-124 series search radar system as well as the ALQ-142 ESM. A 25-tube sonobouy launcher is mounted near the left main landing gear structure. The aircraft is generally crewed by three to four primary personnel including two pilots and a missions specialist (up to eleven passengers can fit in the cabin depending on the production model in question). Beyond its sophisticated array of sensory equipment, the Seahawk can be outfitted with 3 x Mark 46/54 series torpedoes as well as AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles or AGM-119 Penguin anti-ship missiles to engage enemy vessels. Point defense is provided by an optional general purpose machine gun or minigun to either side of the fuselage as required. An Mk 44 Mod 0 cannon can also be installed and used in the mine clearing role.

Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk (Cont'd)

Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter

Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk (Cont'd)

Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter

The Seahawk is powered by 2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines delivering 1,890 shaft horsepower each coupled to a four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor. The tail rotor is offset to the starboard side of the aircraft and used to stabilize forward flight (countering the torque of the main rotor blades). This arrangement provides a top speed of 170 miles per hour with a range out to 520 miles and service ceiling of 12,000 feet. A rate-of-climb of 1,650 feet per minute is reported. Depending on the production model, the Seahawk is also cleared to haul up to 9,000lb of cargo under its fuselage (via sling load) as well as 4,000lb in its cabin.

All told, the Seahawk can be called upon to undertake a variety of critical missions including at-sea resupply, search and rescue of downed pilots and sailors, humanitarian relief, special forces insertion/extraction, MEDEVAC, cargo hauling, submarine/surface warship hunting and mine warfare. The type has also been developed into a series of related, though mission-specific, marks as follows:

The SH-60F "Oceanhawk" is a dedicated aircraft carrier-based anti-submarine warfare platform of which 81 have been produced. The HH-60H "Rescue Hawk", as its name suggests, is utilized in the search and rescue role at sea, some 42 having been built. The HH-60 "Jayhawk" is an HH-60H-based version developed to specific US Coast Guard standards. The MH-60R "Seahawk" is a a modernized version of the SH-60B complete with the "LAMPS Mk III Block II Upgrade" and support for improved missiles and torpedoes. The MH-60S "Knighthawk" is a cargo-hauling platform developed to replace the aging Boeing CH-46 Sea Knight tandem rotor transports.

The CH-60E was a proposed USMC troop transport that fell to naught. Developmental prototypes of mentioned production marks have included the YSH-60R (becoming the MH-60R) and the YCH-60S (becoming the MH-60S).

The Seahawk has also been slightly modified for foreign purchase to which customers are largely made up of US-friendly nations and include Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Japan, Spain, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey. Export variants on recognized as S-70B "Seahawk" while their civilian counterparts are the S-70C. The SH-60J is an anti-submarine mount for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF).

The US Navy currently operates over 40 SH-60-related squadrons (including reserves) as of early 2013 and has procured hundreds of units since 1985 with over 700 helicopters having been delivered by Sikorsky to all parties in that span.

Program Updates

February 2018 - Singapore has taken delivery of its first two S-70B Seahawk platforms from the United States.

August 2018 - The Indian Navy has moved closer to securing a deal for twenty-four Sikorsky MH-60R Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) helicopters.

January 2019 - The Japan Ministry of Defense has earmarked funds to cover the procurement of some thirteen SH-60K helicopters over the next five years. These will be built locally by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).


YEAR: 1984
STATUS: Active, In-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Sikorsky Aircraft - USA / Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) - Japan
LENGTH: 64.80 ft (19.75 m)
WIDTH: 53.64 ft (16.35 m)
HEIGHT: 17.06 ft (5.2 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 15,201 lb (6,895 kg)
MTOW: 17,758 lb (8,055 kg)
POWER: 2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines delivering 1,890 shaft horsepower each.
SPEED: 207 mph (333 kph; 180 kts)
CEILING: 18,996 feet (5,790 m; 3.6 miles)
RANGE: 437 miles (704 km; 380 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,650 ft/min (503 m/min)
OPERATORS: Australia; Brazil; Denmark; Greece; Israel; Japan; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Korea; Spain; Taiwan; Thailand; Turkey; United States


1 OR 2 x M60 7.62mm general purpose machine gun OR M240 general purpose machine gun OR 1 x GAU-16/A machine gun OR 1 x GAU-17/A minigun.
4 OR 8 x AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles (SS-60B/HH-60H and MH-60S Block III).
3 x Mark 46 torpedoes OR 3 x Mark 54 Torpedoes
1 x AGM-119 Penguin anti-ship missile
1 x 30mm Mk 44 Mod 0 RAMICS mine-clearing cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft Gatling-style rotating gun
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-tank guided missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-ship missile
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Variants / Models

• YSH-60B - Evaluation Prototype
• SH-60B - Production version based on the YSH-60B developmental model.
• NSH-60B - Flight Test Platform
• SH-60F "Oceanhawk"
• NSH-60F - Based on the SH-60F; developed for VH-60N Cockpit Upgrade Program.
• HH-60H "Rescue Hawk" - Search and Rescue (SAR) Platform.
• YSH-60R - Two converted SH-60B mdoels for upgrade program; becoming the MH-60R in service.
• MH-60R - Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) platform; originally known as "LAMPS Mark III Block II Upgrade"; first-flight December 1999 as YSH-60R; adopted by USN in 2006.
• YCH-60S "Knighthawk"
• MH-60S "Knighthawk"
• S-70B - Export Designation
• S-70B-1 - Anti-Submarine Platform for Spanish Navy; fitted with LAMPS.
• S-70B-2 - Anti-Submarine Platform for Royal Australian Navy; based on SH-60B.
• S-70B-3 (SH-60J) - Anti-Submarine Platform for Japanese Navy.
• S-70B-6 "Aegean Hawk" - Based on Taiwanese S-70C(M)1/2; blend of SH-60B and SH-60F production models for Greek military.
• S-70B-7 - Export Model for Thailand Navy
• S-70C(M)-1/2 "Thunderhawk" - Export Model for Taiwan Navy.
• S-70A(N) "Naval Hawk" - Blend of S-70A "Black Hawk" with S-70B "Seahawk" for maritime role.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (207mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (715)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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