Sikorsky believes a more complicated security environment bodes well for its MH-60R helicopter in South Korea's second Maritime Operations Helicopter (MOH) competition.
Christophe Nurit, vice president-Asia at Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin, says the submarine threat facing South Korea has grown since the country's last MOH competition early this decade.
The first MOH was won by the Leonardo Helicopters (then AgustaWestland) AW159 in 2013. It saw the 6t AW159 defeat the 10t MH-60R.
A request for information for the new ASW requirement was issued in January 2017. Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said three types will be considered for the requirement: the Leonardo Helicopters AW159, the MH-60R, and the NH Industries NH-90.
Nurit adds that that the additional weight of the MH-60R offers longer endurance on station, and the ability to perform a more diverse array of missions during one sortie.
A Leonardo Helicopters spokesman told Flightglobal, however, that South Korea's ships are now compatible with AW159 operations, and that crew training is also geared to the type. Moreover, he says the advanced sensors on the helicopter, namely its radar, allow it to develop a picture of the tactical environment far faster than with South Korea's legacy helicopters. This can reduce the need for longer times on station.
Longer term, the entire South Korean requirement for ASW helicopters is expected to reach 40 units.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the South Korean navy has 56 assets dedicated the ASW and maritime patrol mission. This includes the eight AW159s, 24 Lynx rotorcraft, eight UH-60Ps, and 16 P-3C Orions.