The US Navy has agreed to pay Lockheed Martin $951.7 million over five years to produce and integrate mission systems for the MH-60R helicopter.
Combined with two other contracts totalling $113.6 million, this brings the total value of the multi-year contract - to integrate advanced electronic systems into 139 multi-mission helicopters by 2013 - to $1.065 billion. The earlier advanced procurement contracts were awarded in January and May 2006.
The new mission systems on the MH-60R boost its anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities. The investment is expected to boost the navy's combat preparedness. The multi-year contract allows the US Navy to lock the price, resulting in an estimated 12 per cent cost reduction compared to buying the systems over the same period on an annual schedule.
Lockheed Martin is the prime air weapons systems integrator for the MH-60R, the US Navy's most advanced submarine hunting and surface warfare helicopter, which is replacing the Navy's fleet of SH-60B and SH-60F Seahawk helicopters.
Designed for anti-submarine and surface warfare, its secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and communications and data relay.
Among the MH-60R's new capabilities is an acoustic sonar suite that provides significantly increased range for detecting submarines, and a multi-mode, long-range search radar that can automatically detect and track an increased number of surface vessels. The company has also reduced the time required to install and integrate the equipment, from six months to four months.
Once equipped, the choppers are flown to the navy's training squadron, HSM-41, at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California, where pilots and crews are trained to operate them.
The first operating MH-60R squadron will be the HSM-71 'Raptors', which will makes its first deployment on an aircraft carrier in 2009.