The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $382 million contract for the production and delivery of eight MH-60R helicopters, plus associated systems engineering and program management support. Work under the contract is expected to be completed by September 2020. The MH-60 is built by Sikorsky, now owned by Lockheed Martin.
The Navy had funded its final batch of 29 MH-60Rs in the FY16 budget, completing planned procurement of 278 aircraft. At one point, the Navy had actually removed that batch of aircraft from the acquisition plan altogether due to a lack of funding to refuel the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). Lawmakers instructed the Navy to proceed with the carrier refueling and procure the final batch of helicopters in FY16.
Congress subsequently added $400 million to the FY18 defense appropriations bill for eight additional MH-60Rs in order to keep the production line running. The recently-announced contract award to Lockheed Martin covers these aircraft. The contract closes out the program for the Navy, and no further procurement is currently planned. However, the Navy will continue with various MH-60R upgrades over the coming years. The type will begin reaching its end of life in 2029, at which point a life extension is expected to keep the aircraft operational into the 2030s.
The MH-60R is used for undersea and surface warfare, search-and-rescue, surveillance, and other roles. The aircraft replaced the Navy’s SH-60B LAMPS helicopter and SH-60F Seahawk by combining both missions into a single platform.