mh 60s seahawk

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  • The U.S. Navy is looking to replace its MH-60 Seahawk and uncrewed MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopters in the 2030s.
  • The service wants to piggyback on the U.S. Army’s search to replace the Blackhawk helicopter.
  • A Seahawk replacement would likely be an Osprey-like tiltrotor design or one fitted with a push propeller.

    The U.S. Navy thinks it will need new helicopters sometime in the 2030s, and it’s beginning the search now.

    The Navy plans to follow the Army’s quest for a new medium helicopter, Future Vertical Lift, which would probably mean replacing its current Seahawk helicopters with faster, longer-range craft powered by tiltrotor or push propeller technology. The service also wants to replace the smaller, uncrewed MQ-8 Fire Scout.

    an mh 60r seahawk assigned to the

    An MH-60R Seahawk assigned to the “Raptors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron fires a live Hellfire missile, 2008.

    MC2 Mark A Leonesio/DVIDS

    The new aircraft would replace the long-serving Seahawk line of helicopters. Introduced in 1984, the Seahawk is based on the U.S. Army’s Blackhawk medium transport helicopter. By pairing with the Army, the Navy shared the development costs it would have had to shoulder by buying a different helicopter.

    The Navy flies two versions of the Seahawk: the MH-60R and MH-60S. The MH-60R is a sub-hunter, equipped with the AQS-22 low-frequency dipping sonar, a multi-mode radar, and the ability to carry Mk. 54 anti-submarine torpedoes and Hellfire missiles.

    The MH-60S mission set, meanwhile, includes anti-surface warfare, humanitarian disaster relief, combat search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, and mine countermeasures. Seahawks are also the main ride and fire support for Navy SEALs deployed with the fleet.

    The MQ-8 Fire Scout is an uncrewed helicopter used in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles. It can also carry weapons, including rockets and missiles. The Navy is particularly interested in extending the search range of surface warships, using them to detect and then target enemy vessels with anti-ship missiles.

    defiant x, mh 60

    The Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant X aircraft, one of two finalists for the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft competition.


    The Navy’s new helicopter would likely be drawn from the Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), the ground service’s effort to replace the UH-60 Blackhawk. There are currently two competitors in the FLRAA race: the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor and the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant X.

    The V-280 Valor is similar to the V-22 Osprey, but tilts only the engine rotors instead of the entire engine nacelle. Defiant X looks more like a conventional helicopter, but incorporates two sets of coaxial main rotors, plus a tail push rotor.

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    Both the Valor and the Defiant are projected to be up to twice as fast and have a longer range than the existing Blackhawk/Seahawk helicopters. In the field, that will mean flying out to investigate possible enemy submarines faster; being able to search for adversaries, particularly subs, at a greater distance from the home ship; and allowing ships to stand off at a greater distance from a shoreline when launching a raiding party of SEAL commandos.

    The new aircraft will operate from nearly all Navy warships, from aircraft carriers to frigates, with the exception of submarines. The Navy believes it will need the new aircraft starting in the 2030s.

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