Versions of the Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk dominate US naval aviation. The three types currently in service will be replaced by two follow-on types under development.
The SH-60B Seahawk deploys the LAMPS III anti-submarine warfare system and functions as an extension of the shipboard weapon system of the warship on which it is deployed. With radar, electronic surveillance measures, magnetic anomaly detector, infra-red, and sonobuoy sensors, the SH-60B can detect and track submarines and surface ships and attack with torpedoes and missiles. The Navy received 93 SH-60Bs upgraded to Block I standard with expanded weapons capability.
SH-60F Ocean Hawk anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters are embarked on US Navy supercarriers to provide inner-zone defense of a carrier battle group; they also serve in plane guard, rescue, and logistics roles. The HH-60H Ocean Hawk has the primary role of conducting combat search and rescue (SAR), and insertion and extraction of special warfare forces.
The Navy's SH-60R Strikehawk replaced both the SH-60B and SH-60F as well as the HH-60H. The SH-60R lost the magnetic anomaly detector but will features many improvements, including an increase in gross operating weight; two additional stores stations; and AYK-14 mission computer; improved cockpit displays; an AQS-22 dipping sonar; a UYS-2 acoustic processor; a multi-mode radar; an upgraded electronic surveillance system; an infra-red sensor; and an integrated self-defense system. The SH-60R entered service in 2002, and the re-manufacture programme is to continue through 2010.
The CH-60S Knighthawk is being developed for the vertical replenishment role. This combines the rotor, engines, tail pylon, gearbox, and rescue hoist of a Black Hawk with the automatic flight control system of a Seahawk. The prototype CH-60S Knighthawk was flown in 1997 and was approved in 1998 for low-rate initial production. The YCH-60 is also undergoing development as a mine-warfare platform to replace the MH-53E.
Export operators of SH-60B, SH-60Fs and hybrid SH-60B/Fs comprise Australia, Greece, Japan, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. The US Coast Guard flies the HH-60J Jayhawk in the SAR role