The Navy, this week, begins Operational Evaluation of the MH-60R
Weapons System, the next generation submarine hunter and surface
attack helicopter that will replace the fleet's legacy SH-60B and
Designed as a rigorous assessment of the aircraft and its
mission systems in operational flight conditions, Operational
Evaluation is the aircraft's final test phase before fleet
introduction and delivery.
Navy evaluators gave the authorization to begin Operational
Evaluation (OPEVAL) at an April 22 Operations Test Readiness Review
meeting. The decision followed the helicopter's successful
completion of the Navy's six-month-long developmental test phase,
known as Technical Evaluation, in February.
The Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One (VX-1), based at
Patuxent River, Md, will perform the operational evaluation at
various test ranges, and is expected to conclude in September.
Specifically, VX-1 will evaluate the performance of the MH-60R
aircraft and its on-board weapons subsystems, including the
multimode radar, electronic support measures and radar warning
receiver, airborne dipping sonar and acoustics. The fusion of
multiple data sources for most effective workload management and
decision-making also will be evaluated.
"OPEVAL will enable our VX-1 pilots and operators to fully
evaluate the dramatically added reach, precision and combat
effectiveness of the MH-60R weapons system," said Navy MH-60R
Program Manager Capt. Paul Grosklags. "Of particular interest will
be the new tactics that will begin to evolve from the enhanced
capability to localize, track and attack undersea and surface
"Entry into the operational evaluation phase affirms Navy
confidence in the MH-60R weapons system," said Jeff Bantle, vice
president and general manager of Multi-Mission Solutions at
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego. "We are excited about
the tremendous increase in capability, and the future fleet's
enhanced operational effectiveness in the littoral battle
"MH-60R OPEVAL marks a major step towards Milestone III and
full-rate production," said Len Wengler, vice president of Maritime
Programs at Sikorsky Aircraft. "We look forward to the introduction
of the MH-60R and the major increase in war fighting capability it
will provide the U.S. Navy. The MH-60R will set the standard for
ASW and ASuW aircraft."
Lockheed Martin is the mission systems integrator for the
MH-60R, and also provides the digital cockpit, which is common to
all MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters. Sikorsky designs and
manufactures the MH-60S and MH-60R aircraft and is responsible for
the mechanical and electrical modifications on the airframe.
The MH-60R program, co-lead by Cmdr. Kevin Switick and Mr.
Robert Kimble, is a department within the Multi-mission Helicopter
Program Office (PMA-299), headquartered at the Naval Air Systems
Command in Patuxent River, Md. PMA-299 is administered by the
Program Executive Office for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission