In a stride toward enhancing its maritime capabilities, Spain’s Armada has secured a contract with Lockheed Martin for eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, marking a leap in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. 

These advanced aircraft, equipped with mission systems and sensors, are intended to improve Spain’s anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities.

The Spanish Navy is poised to retire its ageing SH-60B Seahawk fleet, making way for the MH-60R helicopters.

The transition to the MH-60R Seahawk is a leap in terms of technology. The decision comes after the retirement in 2022 of the last of its 18 Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters, which were first introduced in 1966. In 1988, Spain acquired 12 SH-60B aircraft and, more recently, added eight SH-60F Seahawk helicopters from the US Navy.

The Spanish Navy is enthusiastic about this modernisation effort. An Armada spokesperson stated: “The new MH-60R will upgrade mission systems and sensors of the SH-60B fleet, elevating the Armada to the highest level of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability. We expect a smooth transition from the SH-60B to the MH-60R.”

Spain’s decision to embrace the MH-60R Seahawk aligns with a broader international trend. These helicopters are already operational with the US NavyAustraliaDenmark and IndiaGreece and South Korea are set to receive deliveries in 2024. In May, the US Navy announced that the global MH-60R fleet had collectively surpassed one million flight hours.

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Capt. William Hargreaves, US Navy H-60 Multi-mission Helicopters programme manager, commented on this partnership: “Spain’s confidence in the MH-60R is an attestation to our shared commitment to national security and the security of our allied nations. 

“We are committed to supporting Spain throughout this process, from contract award through delivery, while further solidifying our global partnership. The increased capabilities and new technologies of the MH-60R Seahawk will allow the Spanish Navy to remain a ready, capable, and equipped fleet.”

Procuring the helicopters will enhance Spain’s defence and deepen its collaboration with international allies in naval security.