Navy Helicopter Fleet’s Future Concerns House Subcommittee
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — A House subcommittee is concerned that a growing Navy fleet will need more helicopters to embark, noting that deliveries of the MH-60 soon will end and service-life extensions will be needed.
In a report on the defense appropriations bill, the House Appropriations defense subcommittee noted that the Navy is conducting a force structure assessment of its helicopter fleet. The subcommittee included a requirement in the bill that the secretary of the Navy “submit the Force Structure Assessment for the helicopter fleet to the congressional defense committees not later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act.”
The subcommitteee said that with growing the Navy’s battle force to 355 ships, more helicopters would be needed to equip the additional ships.
“The Committee recognizes that the current fleet of MH–60 helicopters are beginning to run out of service life and will have to undergo a service life extension program in the next few years,” the bill’s text said. “Additionally, the final aircraft of the MH–60R program of record are being delivered in fiscal year 2018. The Committee is concerned by the potential increased requirement for additional helicopters in the future years defense program and the sustainability of the helicopter industrial base.”
Procurement of the MH-60S, which entered service in 2002, has been completed. The last of the MH-60Rs on order will be delivered in 2018. Both helicopter types are built by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company. The Army and Marine Corps are exploring future rotorcraft technology with Navy input.