Procurement: The $125 Million Chopper


August 1, 2009: South Korea has ordered eight American MH-60S naval helicopters. Called the Knighthawk, the MH-60S is based on the UH-60 Blackhawk. The first navalized version of the UH-60 was the SH-60B Seahawk. South Korea is buying the MH-60S choppers, plus spare parts, technical support, and the latest gear for detecting and clearing naval mines from the air. This will run the cost per helicopter up to about $125 million..

 It was only two years ago that first export sale, to Thailand, took place. The MH-60S entered service seven years ago. Currently, the U.S. Navy is using over a hundred of them, and expects to have 237 by 2011. The MH-60S was designed to replace existing 11 ton, 1960s era, CH-46D helicopters. The ten ton MH-60S is superior to the older CH-46D in most ways (load, range, speed, reliability), but is smaller, so it can use the landing pads on destroyers and frigates. The navalized versions of the UH-60 are more expensive because of anti-corrosion features (salt water rusts unprotected metal and damages other components), more powerful engines, folding blades, a hoist system, more advanced electronics and numerous other changes.


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