The MH-60S Knighthawk is the United States Navy's newest multi-mission helicopter. Originally designated as the CH-60S to signify its primary vertical replenishment role, the Knighthawk has since had its designation revised to MH-60S to reflect additional mission parameters consisting of special warfare and support, combat search & rescue and airborne mine countermeasures. The Knighthawk entered into USN service in February of 2002 with full scale production beginning in August of that year, replacing the durable but aging CH-46D Sea Knights heavy-lift, tandem-rotor helicopters then in service (Sea Knights were fully retired from service with the USN in September of 2004). While the CH-46D Sea Knight sported a similar external design to the US Army CH-47 Chinook utility series, the MH-60S similarly reflects the US Army's current UH-60 Blackhawk series. In fact, the UH-60 airframe is used in a handful of navalized forms that include the SH-60B "Seahawk", SH-60F "Oceanhawk", HH-60H "Rescue Hawk", MH-60R "Seahawk" and the MH-60S "Knighthawk". As of this writing, the US Navy plans on fielding a total of 237 Knighthawks in its inventory by 2011. It is also expected that the MH-60S Knighthawks and MH-60R Seahawks will replace all earlier Seahawk versions in service with the USN.
Incidentally, "Knighthawk" is an unofficial designation for the MH-60S.
Power for all Knighthawks is derived from twin General Electric T-700-GE-401C turboshaft engines driving a four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor, all navalized for the rigors of operating at sea. The main rotor features powered folding for a smaller footprint aboard naval vessels. The Knighthawk is equipped with the Hover In-Flight Refueling system (HIFR).
Standard defensive armament is mission-specific and can include the pintle-mounting the 7.52x51mm M60D general purpose machine gun, the 7.62x51mm M240 general purpose machine gun or the GAU-17/A minigun on the port or starboard cabin windows. Cabin doors support the mounting of the 12.7mm Browning heavy caliber machine gun. With the "Armed Helicopter Mission Kit" by Lockheed Martin, the Knighthawk can field Hellfire anti-tank or Penguin anti-ship missiles, the MK54 digital torpedo, cannon pods or gunpods as needed. Other offensive systems that have since been added include a laser range finder, full-color TV camera and FLIR (Forward-Looking InfraRed). For electronic defense, the MH-60S sports countermeasures made up of the AN/APR-39AV(2) and AN/AAR-47V(2) series radar warners along with the AN/ALQ-144V(6) Infrared Countermeasures Set (ICS).
Survival systems include jettisonable cockpit doors for the pilot and co-pilot, seated side-by-side at the front of the fuselage offering excellent views forward, to the sides, above and below. Each pilot is afforded an armored chair to protect from ground fire. A third crewmember manages the cabin and defensive weapons as needed. A ground proximity warning system was been added to help avoid accidents.
Since the Knighthawk system has been branched out to include a variety of fleet-important roles, none might be more distinctive than the inclusion of the Knighthawk in support of the mine countermeasures role. For this job, the Knighthawk has been supplied with a Raytheon AN/AQS-20A towed sonar, the AN/AES-1 ALMDS airborne laser detection system (in pod form) and various other mission-sensitive anti-mine detectors and neutralizers.
MH-60S Knighthawks were deployed operationally in 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. In June of 2007, Thailand became the first export customer for the Knighthawk, putting an order in for two MH-60S platforms for use as utility maritime systems in their Royal Navy.
- Navy / Maritime
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
64.83 ft (19.76 m)
53.67 ft (16.36 m)
12.34 ft (3.76 m)
207 mph (333 kph; 180 kts)
35,000 feet (10,668 m; 6.63 miles)
1,379 miles (2,220 km; 1,199 nm)
Offensive and defensive armament can comprise of any of the following covering mission-specific needs:
1 OR 2 x 7.62mm M60D OR 7.62mm M240 General Purpose Machine Gun(s) OR 7.62mm GAU-17/A minigun(s) on side pintle mounts.
With Armed Helo Kit Installed:
Support for Hellfire Anti-tank or Penguin Anti-Ship Missiles. Also automatic cannon pods and machine gun pods as needed.
CH-60S - Original Designation
MH-60S - Revised Designation; replaces the CH-46 Sea Knight in USN service; troop transport and resupply variant; Search and Rescue capable; fitted with ALQ-144 infrared jammer; future capabilities to include AQS-20A Mine Detection System with Airborne Laser Designation; all-digital cockpit; optional armaments package; main fuselage of S-70A/UH-60 series models with drivetrain, engines and rotors of the S-70B/SH-60 series models; sliding cabin doors on both sides of fuselage; single tail wheel.