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SH-60B Seahawk LAMPS MK III - Program

The LAMPS project was a $3.9 billion dollar long range program that was the Navy's reaction to a deficiency in surface fleet antisubmarine warfare (ASW). The program evolved in 1970 from an urgent requirement of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) for a program to develop a manned helicopter that would support and serve as a ship's tactical ASW air arm. The advanced sensors, processors, and display capabilities aboard the helicopter would enable the ship to extend its capabilities beyond the classic line-of-sight limitations for surface threats, and the distance limitations for acoustic detection, prosecution and attack of underwater threats.

To meet Under-Sea Warfare (USW) needs, the United States Navy developed the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS). The LAMPS role initially was filled (in the early 1970s) by the installation of shipboard equipment and conversion of the Kaman SH-2 Seasprite helicopter (already in the Navy's inventory) to a LAMPS configuration. As that proved successful, the Navy planned for a Mk II version employing similar electronics but different helicopter platforms. In FY 1972, the CNO abandoned LAMPS Mk II in favor of the Mk III system.

LAMPS MK III, the second generation LAMPS system introduced in 1984 utilizing the Sikorsky SH60-B Seahawk helicopter, improved upon the capabilities provided by the first generation, providing cruisers, destroyers and frigates with a fully integrated weapon system for primary support in USW and SUW roles.

The S-70L, since designated SH-60B Seahawk, was United Technology Sikorsky Division's submission for the Navy's LAMPS Mk III competition. It was selected as the winner in September 1977 in preference to the Boeing Vertol's Model 237, Detail design of the Seahawk was initiated by a U.S. Navy award to Sikorsky of $2.7 million sustaining engineering contract. Concurrently, General Electric was given a $547,000 contract for further development of the T700-GE-401 advanced turboshaft engine to provide increased power and improved corrosion resistance. Additionally, a $17.9 million contract went to IBM Federal Systems to continue development of the avionics essential for the SH-60B to fulfill the LAMPS Mk III role.

LAMPS MK III completed OPEVAL in February 1982 and was found to be effective and suitable. FOT&E which tested the LAMPS MK III Block I Upgrade was completed in 1993 with similar results. The LAMPS Block II Upgrade entered EMD in FY93 and building on the Block I Baseline, included major avionics modifications. The Navy planned to install this upgrade in former SH-60B, SH-60F or HH-60H airframes that had undergone "remanufacture" in the H-60 Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the resultant aircraft to be designated a SH-60R.

On 28 February 1978, it was announced that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) had authorized full scale development of the SH-60B and had awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a $109.3 million contract for the development, manufacture, and flight testing of five prototypes, plus a further airframe for ground testing. Earlier, Sikorsky had updated the original UH-60A Blackhawk mockup to SH-60B configuration, this aircraft was reviewed formally by Department of Defense officials prior to the announcement of the contract award, In July and August 1978, this mockup was used for shipboard compatibility trials on board the frigate USS Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG-7), and the Spruance class destroyer, USS Arthur W. Radford (DD-968).

In mid-September 1978, the Navy responded to congressional demands and reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that it had restructured the LAMPS project to reflect $401.2 million in cuts without adversely affecting the $3.9 billion overall program. In earlier sessions, the House recommended ending the program in favor of updating the existing LAMPS Mk I system.

In February 1979, the main transmission of the SH-60B completed qualification trials during which it was tested to a maximum of 3600 shaft horsepower (shp). That performance was 600 shp in excess of the Navy's mission performance specifications. On 29 March 1979, it was announced that final assembly of the first Seahawk prototype had begun, and the first flight was made on 12 December 1979. The remaining four prototypes were flown in early mid-1980, and operational evaluation began in November of that year in time to obtain the results for a Defense System Acquisition Review Council (DSARC) at the Pentagon. With DSARC's support, the Navy was able to gain congressional approval to procure 204 of these new helicopters for deployment onboard 114 naval ships of three classes: the DD-963 Spruance class destroyer, the CG-47 Ticonderoga class cruiser, and the FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry class guided missile frigate.

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Page last modified: 13-05-2015 20:18:12 ZULU