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MH-60R Helicopter Enters Operational Evaluation Phase

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050517-04
Release Date: 5/17/2005 1:47:00 PM

From Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The MH-60R Seahawk, the Navy’s next generation submarine hunter and surface attack helicopter, entered operational evaluation (OpEval) May 9 with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 here.

Designed to replace the fleet’s legacy SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft, the MH-60R and its mission systems will undergo rigorous assessment in operational flight conditions by fleet representatives.

OpEval is the aircraft’s final test phase before fleet introduction and delivery.

“OpEval will provide VX-1 pilots and operators the opportunity to fully evaluate the dramatically added reach, precision and combat effectiveness of the MH-60R,” said Multimission Helicopter Program Manager Capt. Paul Grosklags. “New tactics will begin to evolve from the enhanced capability to localize, track, and attack undersea and surface targets.”

Navy evaluators gave the authorization to begin OpEval at an April 22 operations test readiness review meeting. The decision followed the helicopter’s successful completion of the Navy’s six-month developmental test phase, known as technical evaluation, in February.

The Navy’s operational test squadron VX-1 will conduct OpEval, scheduled to end in September, here at Patuxent River, Md. and various other test ranges.

Specifically, VX-1 will evaluate the performance of the MH-60R aircraft and its on-board weapons subsystems, including the multimode radar, electronic support measures and radar warning receiver, airborne dipping sonar and acoustics. The fusion of multiple data sources for most effective workload management and decision-making also will be evaluated.

The new technology this platform brings to the fleet and operating forces around the world will change the way naval forces fight, by providing greater surveillance capabilities and more combat options for strike group commanders, according to program officials.

"Entry into the operational evaluation phase affirms Navy confidence in the MH-60R weapons system,” said Jeff Bantle, vice president of Multimission Solutions at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego. "We are excited about the tremendous increase in capability, and the future fleet's enhanced operational effectiveness in the littoral battle space."

Industry partners agree that the increased capabilities that are offered with the MH-60R will play a major role in a naval force that will deter and win the wars of the future.

"MH-60R OpEval marks a major step towards Milestone III and full-rate production," said Len Wengler, vice president of Maritime Programs at Sikorsky Aircraft. "We look forward to the introduction of the MH-60R and the major increase in warfighting capability it will provide the U.S. Navy. The MH-60R will set the standard for ASW (anti-submarine warfare) and ASuW (anti-surface warfare) aircraft."

Lockheed Martin is the mission systems integrator for the MH-60R, and also provides the digital cockpit, 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.

The MH-60R program, co-led by Cmdr. Kevin Switick and Robert Kimble, is a department within the Multimission Helicopter Program Office, PMA-299, headquartered at the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md. PMA-299 is administered by the Program Executive Office for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs.




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