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Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk

Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter

United States | 1984

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

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/06/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this 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 However, Seasprites were introduced in the late 1950s with applicable technology of the time and were soon superseded by more modern developments.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.

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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.

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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).

February 2020 - India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the acquisition of 24 x MH-60R helicopters in a deal that will include AGM-114 Hellfire Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs), the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS), and machine guns. Deliveries are expected to begin five years from contract signing.

May 2020 - The Indian government has signed a $905 million USD deal to cover the acquisition of twenty-four MH-60R multi-mission helicopters to serve the Indian Navy.

June 2020 - Sikorsky has been awarded the Indian Navy MH-60R customization contract.

June 2020 - Spain has shown an interest in acquiring MH-60R helicopters to fulfill a standing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) requirement.

December 2020 - South Korea has selected the MH-60R to fulfill a standing Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) requirement. Up to twelve are expected for procurement.

May 2021 - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) of Japan has completed a first-flight of the all-new, all-modern SH-60L.

October 2021 - The Royal Australian Navy has announced its intention to procure an additional twelve MH-60R ASW helicopters for active service.

May 2023 - The U.S. State Department has approved a $1bil order for six Seahawk helicopters for Norway.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Sikorsky SH-60B Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter.
2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines developing 1,890 shaft horsepower each driving four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor unit.
205 mph
330 kph | 178 kts
Max Speed
168 mph
270 kph | 146 kts
Cruise Speed
18,996 ft
5,790 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
437 miles
704 km | 380 nm
Operational Range
1,650 ft/min
503 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Sikorsky SH-60B Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter.
64.8 ft
19.75 m
O/A Length
53.6 ft
(16.35 m)
O/A Width
17.1 ft
(5.20 m)
O/A Height
15,201 lb
(6,895 kg)
Empty Weight
17,758 lb
(8,055 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter provided across 2 hardpoints.

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, Guided-Missiles (ATGMs) (SS-60B/HH-60H - 4 missiles - and MH-60S Block III - 8 missiles).
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.

Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS).

Hardpoints Key:

Not Used
Notable series variants as part of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk family line.
SH-60 - Base Series Designation; based in the S-70 Seahawk model.
YSH-60B - Evaluation Prototype.
SH-60B - Production version based on the YSH-60B developmental model.
NSH-60B - Flight Test Platform.
SH-60F "Oceanhawk"
SH-60K - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries maritime variant.
SH-60L - Modernized SH-60K by MHI.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 715 Units

Contractor(s): Sikorsky Aircraft - USA / Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) - Japan
National flag of Australia National flag of Brazil National flag of Denmark National flag of Greece National flag of India National flag of Israel National flag of modern Japan National flag of Norway National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Singapore National flag of South Korea National flag of Spain National flag of Taiwan National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of the United States

[ Australia; Brazil; Denmark; Greece; India (ordered); Israel; Japan; Norway (ordered); Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Korea; Spain; Taiwan; Thailand; Turkey; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (205mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
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Image of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk
Image from the United States Department of Defense imagery database.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk Multi-Mission Maritime Helicopter appears in the following collections:
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