South Korea's government has requested the purchase of eight Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk multi-mission helicopters that its navy plans to use to detect and destroy mines along its coast.

Notifying Congress of the proposed deal, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) says the helicopters will be powered by General Electric T700-401C turboshaft engines and feature a range of airborne mine countermeasure (AMCM) sensors.

 © Sikorsky
South Korea has requested eight Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawks

These include AQS-20A towed sonar mine countermeasure systems, AES-1 airborne laser mine detection systems, ASQ-235 airborne mine neutralisation systems, ALQ-220 organic airborne and surface influence sweep systems, AWS-2 rapid airborne mine clearance systems, it adds.

South Korea's navy needs the new helicopters to support its "ability to provide mine warfare detection and mine neutralisation operations to maintain critical sea-lines of communication and coastal access around the Korean peninsula", the DSCA says. The deal is worth an estimated $1 billion, it adds.

The AgustaWestland AW101 and NH Industries NH90 were the other contenders for the contract, and deliveries are due to begin three years after a contract signature.

South Korean naval officers believe the new AMCM aircraft will complement their minesweeper ships, and be useful against any attempts by North Korea to block the country's coastal region. The navy's existing helicopters are used for anti-submarine warfare, transport and utility missions.

Source: Flight International