HistoryIn the late 1990s, the US Navy decided to replace its venerable CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. After sea demonstrations by a converted UH-60, the Navy awarded a production contract for the CH-60S. The variant first flew on 27 January 2000 and it began flight testing later that year. The CH-60S was redesignated MH-60S in February 2001 to reflect its planned multi-mission use. The MH-60S is based on the US Army’s UH-60L and has many naval SH-60 features. Unlike all other Navy H-60s, the MH-60S is not based on the original S-70B/SH-60B platform with its forward-mounted twin tail-gear and single starboard sliding cabin door. Instead, the S-model is a hybrid, featuring the main fuselage of the S-70A/UH-60, with large sliding doors on both sides of the cabin and a single aft-mounted tail wheel; and the engines, drivetrain and rotors of the S-70B/SH-60.
The MH-60S is deployed aboard aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, Maritime Sealift Command ships, and fast combat support ships. Its missions include vertical replenishment, medical evacuation, CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue), ASW (Anti-Surface Warfare), maritime interdiction, CAS (Close Air Support), ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and special warfare support. The primary means of defense is with the M60D or M240D/H machine guns. An Armed Helo Kit based on the Army's MH-60L DAP was developed to accommodate Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 2.75 inch rockets, or larger guns. GAU-21 .50 cal machine guns can also be carried in the rear cargo door openings. The MH-60S can also be equipped with a nose mounted Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) turret; it also carries the ALQ-144 Infrared Jammer.
The MH-60S is unofficially known as the "Knight Hawk", referring to the preceding Sea Knight, though "Sea Hawk" is its official DoD name.