The US State Department has approved the sale of 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters to the Republic of Korea Navy. The MH-60Rs will provide a maritime patrol asset capable of anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, naval special warfare and search and rescue duties. The aircraft will serve alongside South Korea’s Leonardo AW159 Wildcat and Leonardo/Agusta Westland Lynx maritime helicopters.
Associate weapons being delivered to the ROK Navy with the MH-60R purchase include 4x M240D 7.62X51mm general-purpose and 4x GAU-21 .50 caliber crew served machine guns. The MH-60R is capable of employing AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles and MK84 torpedoes. Already in South Korean inventory, these systems are expected to be integrated onto the ROK Navy MH-60R platform, possibly leading to further AGM-114 and Mk84 orders.
The MH-60R sensor suite includes the AN/APG-153 (V1) multi-mode radar. Providing a 360-degree view of potential threats, the radar detects surface targets and low flying aircraft. The AAS-44 Forward-Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) provides visual identification and laser target designation of surface vessels and ground targets for subsequent engagement by the AGM-114 Hellfire. The An AQS-22 dipping sonar is used in conjunction with sonobuoys to identify submarines for engagement with MK84 torpedoes.
North Korean Navy Romeo, Sang-O, Golf and Yono Class submarines represent the primary threat to ROK Navy assets, as such it can be expected the new MH-60R inventory will be based aboard ROK destroyers and the new DOKDO Class helicopter carriers. The MH-60R is also capable of engaging missile boats and smaller craft that might threaten South Korea’s fleet.
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