An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter operates during a vertical replenishment aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush. (MCSN Andrew Johnson/US Navy)
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will “look at options” so it does not break a multiyear helicopter contract with Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin that includes about 90 aircraft, a senior US Defense Department official said.
The Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal projects no purchases of the MH-60R submarine-hunting helicopter in 2016. The Navy had originally planned to purchase 29 Seahawk helicopters that year. Those helicopters were part of an Army-Navy five-year multiyear deal that included more than 650 Black Hawk-model helicopters.
“We obviously don’t want to break the multiyear, so we’re going to look at options to try not to,” Frank Kendall, DoD undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, told Defense News after a speech Tuesday at a National Defense Industrial Association conference.
Kendall noted that a decision on the multiyear contract is an issue for DoD’s 2016 budget.
The Navy is considering retiring the aircraft carrier George Washington that year due to defense spending cuts. Retiring a carrier means one less carrier air wing — which includes MH-60Rs.
But if the Pentagon cancels its orders for the 29 MH-60Rs, at least 60 Army Black Hawks would also be canceled since they are part of the same multiyear, Sikorsky officials said last week.
The Seahawk is a specialized version of the Army’s Black Hawk utility helicopter. Lockheed Martin integrated special sensors and submarine-hunting equipment on the MH-60R.