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US Navy’s plan to replace fleet of MH60s moves forward

16th May 2024 - 15:51 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London

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FVL-MS will be developed to perform missions and operate primarily from larger surface combatants such as frigates, destroyers and littoral combat ships, and will replace MH-60 variants. (Photo: US Navy)

The US Navy’s Future Vertical Lift (Maritime Strike) has been an effort to recapitalise Sikorsky MH-60R/S naval helicopters which have an out-of-service date in the late-2030s.

The US Navy’s FVL-MS programme, an effort to replace ageing Seahawk MH-60 helicopters, has been given the go-ahead to proceed with the development of a Capabilities Development Document (CDD) and a Concept of Operations (CONOPs), a step towards producing a requirement.

The programme recently completed its Analysis of Alternatives, culminating in a Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (DCNO) for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities (N9) Gate 2 Resources and Requirements Review Board (R3B) presentation which led to CCD and CONOPs.

The US Navy’s legacy fleet of MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters will begin to reach the end of their service lives in the late 2030s following Service Life Extensions for both aircraft.

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FVL-MS has provided the US Navy with the opportunity to transition the existing legacy fleet to a more capable platform required to operate in a Distributed Maritime Operations concept.

It will be a family of systems, incorporating crewed and uncrewed platforms to perform the missions that legacy helicopters perform today but with greater ranges, endurance and modularity to capitalise on emerging technologies.

FVL-MS will leverage similar US Army and US Marine Corps vertical take-off and landing efforts, and be informed by these services’ advances in improved engine design, digital backbone, Modular Open Systems Architecture, advanced rotor blades, materials and launched effects.

The US Navy plans to work towards a materiel solution and an initial operational capability in the early 2040s. OPNAV N98 and Naval Air Systems Command will hold an Industry Day in 2024 to relay requirements for FVL-MS capabilities.

The Shephard News Team

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