MH–60S Seahawk "Knighthawk"

Product Type:

Twin-Engine Combat Support
and Mine Countermeasures Helicopter

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

In Full Rate Production (FRP)
Last 8 helicopters purchased in FY 2015

Prime Contractor:

Airframe: Sikorsky Aircraft (Lockheed Martin)

The MH-60S Seahawk aka Knighthawk

About the MH-60S Seahawk:

The Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk (aka Knighthawk) Fleet Combat Support Helicopter is a versatile twin-engine helicopter used to maintain forward deployed fleet sustainability through rapid airborne delivery of materials and personnel - to support amphibious operations through search and rescue coverage and to provide an organic airborne mine countermeasures capability. The MH-60S is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines, each delivering 1,800 shp.

The helicopter can carry 12 troops or 6 stretchers. The maximum cargo payload is 9,000 pounds external and/or 4,000 pounds internal, but limited to 10,000 pounds of cargo in total.

In 1997, the Navy decided to find a replacement for its aging fleet of CH-46/HH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. After sea demonstrations using a converted UH-60, the Navy awarded contracts for the development of the CH-60S in 1998. This variant first flew in January 2000 and began flight testing later that year. In February 2001, the CH-60S was redesignated MH-60S to reflect the planned multi-mission use. The advantage of the MH-60S as compared to the CH-46 are lower cost per flight operating hour, fewer mission aborts, fewer component removals, and fewer unscheduled maintenance actions. Long-term U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) planning calls for the MH-60S to replace the MH-53E Sea Dragon when the Navy retires that aircraft in the late 2020s/early 2030s.

With its glass cockpit, the MH-60S incorporates active matrix liquid crystal displays used to facilitate pilot and co-pilot vertical and horizontal situation presentations. Another major design feature of the MH-60S is a so-called 'common cockpit' shared with the MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopter. This allows pilots to shift from one aircraft to another with minimal re-training. The common cockpit is designed and supplied by Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, New York. The common cockpit features the following: four 8x10 inch (20.3 x 25.4 cm) full-color flight and mission displays; the Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 full digital communications suite; the Northrop Grumman LN-100G Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS); the Ku-band Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) Hawklink System (supplied by Harris Corporation); a mass memory data storage unit; a ruggedized integrated mission computer; a flight management computer and operations software; and a full-color, night vision capable, sunlight readable glass cockpit.

The sensors package on the MH-60S includes the Raytheon AN/AAS-44C(V) forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system for expanded night vision and Hellfire targeting capability; the Raytheon AN/AQS-20A towed minehunting sonar system; the ITT Exelis Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep System (OASIS); the Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), which uses pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers (housed in an external equipment pod) to image the entire near-surface area potentially containing mines; and military-off-the-shelf (MOTS) based mission and flight management computers.

The MH-60S is equipped with the Raytheon AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS), which neutralizes moored and bottom mines. Mines are first identified by the AN/AQS-20A sonar system. The AMNS then identifies the location of the mines and neutralizes the target. The AMNS consists of the Launch and Handling System (LHS); common neutralizer vehicle; common console display; and the carriage, stream, tow and recovery system. The common neutralizer vehicle features the BAE Systems Archerfish single-shot mine disposal system and the Northrop Grumman Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS). RAMICS uses a gated electro-optic Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor for target re-acquisition and a 30mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II gun for neutralization. The gun uses a Mk 258 Mod 1 armor piercing, fin-stabilized tracer round which is stable during flight. After penetrating the water, the Mk 258 round supercavitates to greatly reduce drag, thus improving underwater flight performance.

Countermeasures on the MH-60S include the Northrop Grumman AN/APR-39A(V)2 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR); Alliant Techsystems AN/AAR-47 Missile Approach Warning System; BAE Systems AN/ALQ-144 infra-red countermeasures system; and BAE Systems AN/ALE-39 chaff and flare decoy dispenser.

The MH-60S helicopters are fielded as three "Blocks" of aircraft with slightly different capabilities. The Block I Combat Support provides Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP); internal transport of passengers and cargo; vertical on-board delivery; airhead operations; and day/night Search and Rescue. Secondary roles include torpedo and drone recovery, noncombatant evacuation operations, Sea air land and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) support. The Block 2 Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) provides an organic AMCM capability for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package. Block IIA AMCM includes the Carriage, Stream, Tow and Recovery System (CSTRS), the common console, and the AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). Block IIB includes the AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS). The Block III Armed Helo provides the Navy with Surface Warfare (SuW), Force Protection (FP), and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) capabilities. Additional Armed Helo mission areas include naval special warfare and maritime interdiction operations. These missions are crucial to the Navy's role in the littoral areas of the world. The first 50 aircraft purchased are only capable of performing Block I Combat Support missions. Aircraft 51 to 275 will be capable of performing Block I Combat Support Missions, as well as Block II AMCM missions and Block III Armed Helo missions with installation of ancillary kits.

The MH-60S is designed to operate from amphibious assault ships, including the LHA 6 America Class and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), as well as the U.S. Navy's fast combat supply ships (USNS).

In FY 2015, the Navy purchased the last 8 MH-60S Seahawks resulting in a total of 275 helicopters purchased under the program.

In June 2007, the Royal Thai Navy became the first MH-60S international customer having placed an order for two helicopters (delivered in August 2011).


The MH-60S Seahawk is equipped with two M240 7.62mm machine guns and two GAU-21 .50 caliber machine guns and can be equipped with sixteen AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or four rocket pods for 2.75 inch (70mm) Hydra-70 rockets. For more detail, see specifications below.

Price/Unit Cost:

The price of the MH-60S is $21.93 million (flyaway cost in FY 2015). The cost of the airframe is $15.23 million, the avionics package costs $2.59 million, and the two engines cost $804,418 each.

Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the MH-60S program is $6.98 billion (estimated by the DoD) + $0.78 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $7.76 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made).


The MH-60S conducts vertical replenishment (VERTREP), day/night ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and shore-to-ship external transfer of cargo; internal transport of passengers, mail and cargo, vertical onboard delivery; air operations; and day/night search and rescue. Organic Airborne Mine Countermeasures (OAMCM) has been added as a primary mission for the MH-60S. Five separate sensors will be integrated into the MH-60S helicopter and will provide Carrier Battle Groups and Amphibious Readiness Groups with an OAMCM capability.

FY 2015 DoD Program:

FY 2015 procurement funds in the amount of $182.1 million supports the final purchase of 8 MH-60S helicopters, associated support, and production line shutdown efforts.

FY 2016 DoD Program:

The FY 2016 budget request provides procurement funds in the amount of $28.2 million to support for final delivery of aircraft, ancillary, trainers, PGSE, final CDRL acceptance for ILS and pubs/data, and closeout efforts, as well as acquisition program closeout activities.

For more information, click to view the FY 2016 Navy MH-60S Procurement Budget.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Sikorsky, General Electric Co.,
Raytheon, BAE Systems, and Northrop Grumman.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2016 Budget

Last Update: January 18, 2016.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (

External Resources:

Sikorsky's MH-60S Site: MH-60S Seahawk
Official MH-60R/S Site: MH-60R Official Page

Common Cockpit: Lockheed Martin Common Cockpit
AMNS: Raytheon AN/ASQ-235 AMNS
ALMDS: Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 ALMDS
RAMICS: Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS)

YouTube: MH-60S Seahawk | YouTube

Fact Sheet: Not Available

Total MH-60S Program Cost:

 $7.76 billion  ($6.98B procurement + $0.78B RDT&E)

MH-60S Procurement Objective:

  275 aircraft

MH-60S U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the MH–60S Seahawk in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
DoD Purchases of MH–60S Seahawk Helicopters in FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015 and FY 2016
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2012/13/14 + Budget for FYs 2015 + 2016

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the MH–60S Seahawk

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of MH-60S Helicopters (NAVY) Aircraft Spares and Parts (NAVY)

Aircraft Specifications: MH–60S Seahawk

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Primary Function: Anti-surface warfare (ASuW), combat support and humanitarian
Prime Contractors: Sikorsky Aircraft (Lockheed Martin Corp.)
Power Plant: 2x General Electric T700-GE401C turboshaft engines with 1,800 shp (each engine)
Length: Fuselage: 50 ft 2 in (15.3 m); w/rotors turning: 64 ft 10 in (19.8 m)
Height: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Width: Fuselage: 7 ft (2.1 m)
Rotor Diameter: 53 ft 8 in (16.4 m)
Weight (Empty): 13,470 lbs (6,545 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 23,500 lbs (10,659 kg)
Capacity: 12 troops or 6 stretchers;
9,000 lbs external cargo capacity; 4,000 lbs internal cargo capacity (max. 10,000 lbs internal and external cargo combined)
Fuel Capacity: 360 gallons + two internal auxiliary fuel tanks at 200 gallons each (optional)
Speed: 156 kts/180 mph (289 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 17,560 ft (5,352 m)
Range: 245 nm/282 miles (454 km)
Armament/Weapons: 2x M240 7.62mm machine guns and 2x GAU-21 .50 caliber machine guns;
w/External Stores Support System (ESSS) mounted: 16x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles or 4x Hydra-70 rocket pods
Crew: Four (pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, and gunner)
Price/Unit Cost: $21.93 million flywaway cost (in FY 2015)
First Flight: January 27, 2000 as the CH-60S
Initial Operational Capability: August 2002

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