The sensor suite for Israel’s future Sikorsky SH-60F Seahawk fleet is in the process of being finalised, and is expected to be derived from the capabilities already in operation on board the service’s current fixed and rotary-winged fleets.
The selection is expected to be a “very advanced one” to enhance the capability of the helicopters while deployed aboard the navy’s new SAAR-6 corvettes.
Israeli sources say that the Seahawks will be used mainly for tactical intelligence, while long-range surveillance will be supplied by unmanned systems that will also be deployed on the new corvettes.
The eight-strong fleet will be transferred from the US Navy’s excess fleet.
The original request for eight SH-60F airframes was submitted and approved in February 2015. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency confirmed the state department’s approval for the planned transfer of the aircraft in a notification to Congress in October.
The approval also included a related equipment and support package, which included 12 General Electric T-700 GE401C engines.
The SH-60F is powered by two engines. Of the 12 ordered, 10 will be installed in five of the eight airframes, and two maintained as spares. The remaining three airframes could be maintained for future service, but are more likely to be cannibalised for spare parts.
The Seahawks will be operated by the Israeli air force from the four SAAR-6 corvettes that are now being built in a German shipyard.
The navy currently operates Airbus Helicopters HH-65 Dolphins, which were procured via the USA in 1983.
The SH-60F entered operational service with the US Navy in 1986. The helicopter primarily serves as an anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue aircraft.