The US Navy is integrating the digital rocket launchers (DRLs) on its MH-60R helicopters fleet, in a bid to provide them with more modernised capability.
As part of an early operational capability (EOC), the DRL integration on the helicopters is being carried out by a rapid deployment capability team, comprised of employees from the H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopters (PMA-299) and the Direct Time and Sensitive Strike Weapons (PMA-242) programme offices.
The rocket launchers are designed to enable the warfighter to better tackle threats, such as fast attack craft (FAC) /fast inshore attack craft (FIAC).
PMA-299 MH-60 weapons integrated product team co-lead D’Ann Morris said: "The DRL enables the MH-60R to carry the advanced precision kill weapon System.
"This allows for a greater number of precision-guided munitions to be used against the threat during a single attack. So not only do we reduce the number of attacks needed to accomplish a given mission, but we decrease operational cost, increase war-fighting effectiveness, and enhance crew safety."
The first MH-60R squadron to deploy with the rocket launcher will be Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, onboard the USS John C Stennis (CVN 74).
The remaining MH-60R squadrons are expected to be outfitted with the DRLs by the end of 2018. These DLRs are being equipped on the MH-60R after successful integration of ‘smart’ rocket launchers on MH-60S helicopters last year.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron’s (HSC) 15 MH-60S aircraft are currently deployed with the DRL capability.
PMA-299 programme manager captain Craig Grubb said: "We reached EOC on our threshold aircraft, the MH-60S, last year, and this year we’re on time again for our objective platform, the MH-60R.
"Ultimately, the capability was provided on schedule and under budget."
Image: A MH-60R helicopter conducting an airborne low-frequency sonar (ALFS) operation. Photo: courtesy of US Navy.