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South Korea cleared for $800 million MH-60R Seahawk helicopters purchase

The U.S. State Department approved the sale to South Korea of 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopters at an estimated cost of $800 million, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.

Nicknamed the Romeo, the MH-60R Seahawk multi-role helicopter manufactured by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky is designed for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, as well conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea and transporting personnel and materiel.

“It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist the Republic of Korea in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability,” DSCA said in the Wednesday, August 7 release, adding that South Korea is “one of the closest allies in the INDOPACOM Theater” and a “key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability” in the East Asia and the Western Pacific region.

In addition to the 12 helicopters, the proposed sale also includes 25 T-700-GE-401C Engines; 13 APS-153(V) multi-mode radars; 12 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar systems; 13 AN/AAS-44C(V) Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems, four M-240D general-purpose machine guns, four GAU-21 .50 calibre machine guns and 1,000 AN/SSQ-36/53/62 anti-submarine sonobuoys.

It also includes navigation and communication systems, along with other related equipment, facilities design, and construction, spare and repair parts, training and other program support.

The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems and there are no known offset agreements in connection with the sale.

The proposed sale is not the first time South Korea has looked at Seahawk helicopters. In 2012, the State Department approved a sale of eight MH-60Rs along with unspecified equipment and support valued at $1.0 billion. However, confirmation came early the next year that South Korea would purchase the Augusta Westland AW159 Lynx Wildcat instead.

Last year, it appeared that South Korea would purchase 12 more AW159 Wildcats in an $840 million program after only that helicopter’s manufacturer, Leonardo, submitted a proposal by the November deadline, but the U.S. government persuaded procurement officials to rethink the acquisition, Defense News reported. According to the report, the Republic of Korea Navy will be forced to make adjustments to the design of its warships to accommodate the MH-60R, if the American helicopter is selected.

There has been some global interest in MH-60R helicopters in recent months. In April, the U.S. approved the sale of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters to India at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion, and in July approved the sale to Greece of up to seven Seahawks along with weapons and other equipment at an estimated cost of $600 million.

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