Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Navy sets its sights on Seahawks

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A US Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter fires chaff flares during a training exercise in the Philippine Sea on April 24 last year.

Photo: Reuters

The navy is eyeing Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawks to replace Hughes MD-500 Defenders as the anti-submarine warfare helicopter carried by its next generation of guided-missile frigates, a Ministry of National Defense source said on Monday.

The MD-500 Defenders entered service in 1977 and are the standard helicopter used on Chi Yang-class frigates, a source said on condition of anonymity.

The navy plans to complete 15 of the guided-missile frigates that will succeed the Chi Yang-class frigates by 2025, the source said.

As the new frigates enter service, the navy plans to simultaneously phase out Chi Yang-class ships and the MD-500 with a more modern rotary-wing aircraft, they said.

The MH-60R Seahawks are pegged as the most likely successor to the MD-500 Defenders because the government has received messages from Washington conveying an interest in reviving an older offer to sell the helicopters, the source said.

The government had previously rejected an offer from the US for eight MH-60R helicopters due to cost considerations, but the US government’s latest message indicate a willingness to lower the price, they said.

The navy has two types of anti-submarine warfare helicopters in service, the MD-500 and the Sikorsky S-70C(M).

While Taiwan procured the S-70C(M) commercially, the MH-60R is likely to be acquired in a state-to-state arms deal, the source said.

Compared with the S-70C(M), the MH-60R has superior engine power, a longer loiter time and a wider selection of weaponry.

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