State Department Clears South Korean FMS Request for 12 MH-60R Helicopters

The U.S. State Department has cleared a potential $800 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multimission helicopters intended for the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy. The required certification notice of the possible government-to-government sale to South Korea was delivered by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) to Congress on August 7, 2019.

The sales proposal includes the 12 helicopters, plus associated engines, multimode radars, sonar and targeting systems, sonobouys, communications equipment, and training and support.

The proposed sale represents one of several options for South Korea as it seeks to add anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capability and capacity to the ROK Navy.

Back in January 2017, the country’s military procurement arm, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), announced that it planned to procure 12 more maritime ASW helicopters to complement an earlier 2012 purchase of eight AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW159 Lynx Wildcats.

Requests for Proposals were issued in May 2018. Potential solutions at the time included additional Leonardo AW159 Lynx Wildcats, the MH-60Rs, and the NH Industries NH90.  However, after Sikorsky and NH Industries failed to submit proposals by the November 14 deadline, the winner appeared to be the Lynx Wildcat by default. Shortly after the deadline, a letter of price and availability was sent to DAPA regarding the MH-60R by the U.S. government, prompting Seoul to reconsider running the program.

South Korea opted to relaunch the acquisition effort – referred to as the Maritime Operational Helicopters (MOHs) Batch 2 requirement – in May.

This second-batch order of MOHs tailored for ASW missions will bring the total number procured by South Korea up to 20, thus meeting an ROK Navy requirement outlined in 2007.

South Korea’s goal is to bring the new helicopters into service between 2020 and 2022 for deployment on the ROK Navy’s next-generation FFX-II frigates, currently in various stages of production and operational service.

About Daniel Darling

Dan Darling is a senior analyst covering both the Europe and Asia-Pacific regions for Forecast International's International Military Markets group.

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