The future of Navy ship-based helicopters presents some issues of concern and controversy for many in the U.S. Navy.1 Previously, the Navy operated SH-60B Seahawks from surface combatants in the antisubmarine warfare (ASW) role, SH-60F helicopters from carriers for ASW, and the HH-oOHs from carriers for combat search and rescue and to support SEAL operations. In addition, UH-46 Seaknights and MH-53E Super Stallions were employed for vertical replenishment operations, and the MH-53Es for mine countermeasures (MCM). The latter helicopters are based ashore. In the future, all of these helicopter roles are to be flown by the multipurpose MH-60R Seahawk and MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters.
The MH-60R combines both types of helicopter ASW as well as the surface surveillance and attack roles. The MH-60S performs MCM, SEAL support, combat search and rescue, and vertical replenishment. Both the MH-60R and the MH-60S can be armed with Hellfire guided missiles, guns, rockets, and machine suns.