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The world's 10 best anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters

2 January 2014

Helicopters with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems are widely deployed by naval forces as a means to counter submarines at long ranges. lists the 10 best anti-submarine warfare helicopters based on ASW equipment, range and endurance.

The world's 10 best anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters

MH-60R Romeo

The MH-60R Romeo is a next generation Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) helicopter produced by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. It is currently one of the most advanced naval helicopters available.

The MH-60R, with a maximum takeoff weight of 10,659kg, is capable of operating from frigates, destroyers, corvettes and aircraft carriers. It has the ability to conduct fully independent or coordinated ASW missions and can find, track and destroy all modern subsurface threats.

The first MH-60R completed its maiden flight in July 2001 and about 298 helicopters are currently in operation with the US Navy. The helicopters are equipped with a Sonobuoy launcher, forward looking infrared radar (FLIR), multi-mode radar, dipping sonar, integrated self-defence suite and four weapon stations to carry homing torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

NH90 NFH (Naval Frigate Helicopter)

The NH90 NFH, offered by NHIndustries, is an advanced ASW helicopter built by Thales. The helicopter is operated by the Italian Navy, French Navy, Royal Netherlands Navy, Norwegian Navy, and Belgian Navy.

The NH90 NFH features a wide cabin to accommodate special operation troops or wounded personnel along with ASW/ASuW systems such as mission consoles, Sonobuoys, electronic support measures (ESM) and countermeasures. It has a takeoff weight of 11t and can operate from a variety of vessels day and night and in all weather conditions.

The helicopter is installed with FLASH (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters) dipping sonar/sonics systems to detect quiet submarines operating in the open ocean and in littoral waters. The helicopter can be armed with two MU90 / Mk46 or Stingray ASW torpedoes, has a range of 982km, and can conduct ASW missions for up to four hours.


Ka-27 or Ka-28 (export designation) can conduct missions from variety of naval vessels to counter modern sub-surface and surface threats.

The Ka-27 helicopter made its first flight in December 1973 and is used by the naval forces of Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, China, and India. The helicopters are equipped with VGS-3 dipping sonar and sonobuoys to track and detect submarines.

The helicopter is capable of firing torpedoes and anti-submarine missiles and can also be armed with PLAB-250-120 anti-submarine bombs and OMAB bombs. The Ka-27 has a flight range of 900km.

AW159 Lynx Wildcat

The AW159 Lynx Wildcat is an advanced multi-role, maritime and utility aircraft produced by AgustaWestland for the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD). Based on the Lynx family of helicopters, the AW159 Wildcat will replace the Lynx fleet in the British Army and Royal Navy.

The airframe design of the Lynx Wildcat is built to operate off the smallest frigates and offshore patrol vessels and corvettes. The helicopter integrates AESA radar, active dipping sonar, electro-optical device, ESM and defence aids suite making it one of the best ASW helicopter in the world.

Onboard sensors and mission systems enable the Lynx Wildcat to autonomously find and track surface and sub-surface targets, while its air-to-surface missiles, torpedoes, depth charges, rockets and guns ensure the engagement of such targets. The AW159 Lynx Wildcat has a maximum endurance of two hours and 42 minutes.

Super Lynx 300

The Super Lynx 300 ASW/ASuW helicopter is a multi-role naval helicopter produced by AgustaWestland. It is a successor to the combat proven Lynx helicopter already deployed by 15 nations across the globe.

The Super Lynx 300 is designed to operate day or night from small-sized warships in all weather conditions. The onboard mission equipment such as 360° multi mode surveillance radar, electro-optical surveillance system and active dipping sonar ensure the autonomous detection and pursuit of surface and submerged targets.

The Super Lynx 300 is armed with torpedoes and depth charges to attack submarines, while pintle mounted 12.7/7.62mm machine guns, anti-ship missiles and rockets ensure the engagement of potential surface threats. The helicopter has a maximum range of 564km and maximum endurance of three hours.

S-70B SEAHAWK ASW / ASuW Helicopter

The S-70B SEAHAWK is an ASW/ASuW helicopter developed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. The helicopter is capable of operating from frigates, destroyers, corvettes as well as other warships, and its variants are widely operated across the world.

The S-70B helicopter is fitted with search radar, sonobuoy launcher, Helicopter Long-Range Active Sonar (HELRAS) dipping sonar, towed magnetic anomaly detector, acoustic processing unit, forward-looking infra-red (FLIR), and countermeasures.

The S-70B features three weapon stations carrying EuroTorp A244 or MK-46 homing torpedoes, Penguin anti-ship missiles, and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. The helicopter has a maximum speed of 270km/h and a range of 592km.

Z-9EC ASW Helicopter

The Z-9EC is an ASW helicopter developed by Harbin Aircraft based on Harbin Z-9 helicopter, a license-built version of the French AS365 Dauphin. The Z-9EC is operated by the Pakistan Navy's Naval Air Arm.

The helicopter integrates advanced anti-submarine systems such as search radar, dipping sonar system, and ET-52C anti-submarine torpedoes for hunting submarines. The Harpoon landing/take-off system aboard the helicopter ensures operations from ships.

The Z-9EC enhances the operational range of host platform, while meeting the challenging requirements of modern ASW warfare. The helicopter has a maximum range of 427km and can remain airborne for 2.27 hours.

AW101 (Military)

The AW101 (formerly EH101 Merlin) multi-role helicopter is capable of performing wide range of missions in maritime and littoral environments. The helicopter can be deployed in medium-sized transport, ASW, ASuW, long range search and rescue (SAR), airborne mine countermeasures and ship-based utility missions.

The AW101 helicopters configured for autonomous ASW and ASuW missions integrate a mission system composed of dipping sonar, sonobuoys and electronic warfare suite. The helicopter has four torpedoes/depth charges in its weaponry.

The helicopter can also be armed with anti-ship missiles, air-to-air missiles, air-to-surface missiles, rockets and gun systems. The typical range and endurance of the AW101 are 1,300km and six hours respectively.

SH-2G Super Seasprite

The SH-2G Super Seasprite is an anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare helicopter developed by Kaman Corporation. It is currently in service with the Egyptian Navy, Polish Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The SH-2G was primarily developed as an ASW helicopter for the US Navy and the first international SH-2G was delivered to Egypt in 1997. The helicopter was retired from the US Navy in May 2001.

The Super Seasprite can be equipped with a multi-mode radar, FLIR system, active dipping sonar, sonobuoys, and acoustic processing unit. The combination of homing torpedoes, depth charges, air-to-surface missiles and machine gun ensures the engagement of surface and submerged targets. The helicopter has a maximum range of over 830km and endurance of 3.5 hours.

AS565 MB Panther

The Eurocopter AS565 MB is an all-weather multi-role naval helicopter derived from the Panther family of helicopters. The light helicopter can be deployed aboard over 100 classes of NATO vessels to conduct ASW and ASuW missions.

The AS565 MB helicopters are also used to complement shipborne missions such as search and rescue, casualty evacuation, and vertical replenishment (VERTREP). The helicopter is equipped with active and passive sonobuoys as well as MU 90 torpedoes.

The AS565 MB can conduct ASW/ASuW missions for a maximum of four hours while flying at a speed of 140km/h. The helicopter has a maximum range of 792km with standard tanks.

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The MH-60R Romeo Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) tests its dipping sonar.
The NH90 NFH (Naval Frigate Helicopter) is one of the best anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters in the world.
A Ka-27 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopter on display at MAKS 2005 Airshow.
The Royal Navy’s new AW159 Lynx Wildcat helicopter takes off from RFA Argus during trials.
A Super Lynx helicopter from the Royal Malaysian Navy lands on the flight deck of the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) during deck landing qualifications.
An Australian S-70B-2 Seahawk flies over the flight deck of the U.S. Navy amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
A Royal Navy AW101 (formerly EH101 Merlin) ASW helicopter prepares to take off from the HMS Illustrious (R06) aircraft carrier.
A SH-2G Sea Sprite naval helicopter from Royal New Zealand Navy prepares to land on Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
An AS565 MB is multi-role naval helicopter fitted with sonobuoys and MU 90 torpedoes for conducting ASW missions.