The US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has delivered the first two redesigned MH-60S Seahawk gunner seats to the fleet.

The redesigned MH-60S were delivered, installed and demonstrated by the Aircrew Systems Program Office (PMA-202) to Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific (HSCWP) at Naval Air Station North Island.

Aircrew were unable to sit in for a long period of time with the original MH-60S Gunner Seat, which also posed long-term health issues.

The redesign focused on the health of the aircrew, offering improved crash protection and enhancing strength.

In addition to crashworthiness, the redesign has adjustable lumbar support and height, as well as energy absorbers with a selectable weight profile integrated into the seat. The seat received approval prior to delivery.

NAVAIR Commander Vice Adm Dean Peters said: “The gunner seat redesign is a great example of how taking measured risks for an urgent fleet need and incorporating direct fleet input allowed us to deliver capability with far greater speed. The result will be increased aircrew endurance and mission performance.”

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The programme office established a gunner seat task force to allow the fleet to offer real-time input during every step of the prototype’s development.

The government team served as the lead systems integrator and model-based systems engineering was utilised to accelerate the interim flight clearance decision, and support rapid design decisions.

NAVAIR said the component fit / functionality was quickly assessed using additive manufacturing before cutting complex metallic components.

Rapid prototyping was provided by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division AIRWorks office in order to bring the redesign to life in six months.

The Aircrew Systems Program Office allows the navy and marine corps to be combat effective by providing and sustaining aircrew systems that work every time.

It analyses, develops and executes innovative solutions that ensure troops are equipped with fully prepared aircrew systems.