Critical H-60 Effort Could Get Delayed by Congress
By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Seapower Special Correspondent
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Navy’s H-60 helicopter program is eager to move forward with an effort to extend the life of MH-60S helos to 10,000 hours, but the budget situation on Capitol Hill is holding things up, the program manager said April 3 at the 2017 Sea-Air-Space Exposition.
Capt. Craig Grubb, the H-60 program manager, said that the four-year service life assessment program (SLAP) for the MH-60S is scheduled to begin this year, but a combination of the continuing resolution and a proposed budget cut threatens to push that into fiscal, and possibly calendar, 2018.
“It depends on what the budget would be,” Grubb said. “We could start pretty much right away.”
The Navy currently is operating under a continuing resolution, which puts all of its programs in a holding pattern and prevents new starts. The current bill also proposes a cut to the SLAP, Grubb said.
A SLAP for the MH-60R is scheduled to begin in 2020, and would also last for four years before a service life extension program would begin.
It is difficult to say how far short the helicopters would be of the 10,000-hour goal before the SLAP is complete, Grubb said, but the program has identified some risk areas.
“It really is sort of what is the risk of those unknowns, and what will be the impact of whatever we experience as we go forward,” he said. “We have seen issues with the MH-60S. The aircraft is manufactured differently than legacy H-60s. ... There’s no less concern with the MH-60R, [although] it’s certainly more representative of what we have before.”