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Navy Arms MH-60S Helicopter with Gatling Gun

by Kris Osborn on December 18, 2013

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERANavy engineers are upgrading the MH-60R helicopters’ radar, improving its sonar technologies and adding laser-guided precision rockets, service officials said.

The torpedo-armed combat helicopter, in service since 2005, is configured with weapons and sensors designed for anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare, said Capt. James Glass, H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopters Program Manager.

The MH-60R is equipped with two torpedos, the Mk 50 and Mk 54 as well as rockets and small arms.

Glass said the MH-60S is slated to fire a M197 20mm gatling gun produced by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products. The three-barrel, 132-pound gun can fire up to 1,500 rounds per minute.  The M197 is the same weapon which now arms the Marine Corps’ Cobra helicopter.

The MH-60R is also getting equipped with precision-guided 2.75in folding fin rockets by March of 2015, Glass said. The program, called Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System, or APKWS, uses semi-active laser guidance to create precision targeting technology for the Hydra 70, or 2.75in rockets fired from the MH-60R, he added.

APKWS has been in existence for several years and has been tested on fixed wing aircraft by the Air Force as well. The Navy’s MH-60S model helicopter is slated to receive APKWS by March of 2014.

The aircraft’s maritime-specific radar system is specifically geared toward detecting submarines and conducting anti-surface warfare missions with a 360-degree field of view, said Glass.

Glass said the Navy has a new multi-mode version of the radar system for the MH-60, called the APS-153, which will reach the fleet by January of next year. The new upgraded radar will have automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination, or ARPDD, he said.

“The upgraded multi-mode radar will allow the operator to detect smaller targets much more quickly,” Glass added.

The radar achieves this imaging capability, in part, through a technique Glass described as Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar or ISAR mode, a technology which helps operators get a rendering, image or representation of a target or item of interest.

Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar uses the motion of the contact to create a picture of the contact, said Capt. A.C. Lynch, H-60 International Programs Manager.

“The 360-degree radar is designed to identify surface contacts. There are several modes from long-range search to short range search, ISAR, and ARPDD – the radar periscope detect mode to detect submarines,” Glass said.

Made by a firm called Telephonics, the APS-153 is able to detect moving ship targets at night and under restricted visibility situations using the hi-resolution radar, according to statements from the company.

Engineers are also improving the reliability of the MH-60R’s Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar, or ALFS, a high tech sonar system attached to several thousand feet of cable able to lower it under the water to detect submarines.

The Raytheon-built AN/AQS-22 dipping sonar is nine times more effective than previous versions of similar technology. The system has been in service since 2009 and 2010. However, the Navy is now working on technical improvements.

“We’re going after smaller engineering and technical challenges. If we find a piece of hardware that we can improve that will keep the system more reliable, we are incorporating that in these sonars,” Glass said.

The helicopter is engineered with landing gear designed for ship landings. Also, the MH-60R is built with a folding pylon tail and folding rotorblades so as to minimize the amount of space taken up on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, destroyer, frigate or amphibious assault ship, Glass said.

“The whole thing can be folded up and stuffed in a hangar,” he said.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

RRGED December 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Making UH-60 so much more lethal to an already AWESOME aircraft.


IKnowIT December 18, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Yes cool- nose turret mount (I hope/wish) wing mount, or door mount? This will make a nice "oh sh!t it's not a normal H60 surprise moment" for mr. snackbar. :-)


BigUnit December 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm

check it out. Cool picture


Rufus Frazier December 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Maybe those Iranian powerboat swarm tactics are having an effect on NAVY weapon suites?


blight_ December 19, 2013 at 10:47 am

Powerboat swarms were tried in the '80s but they weren't effective during Praying Mantis.


009 December 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm

The upgrade sounds more towards the Asian Pacific Pivot


Big-Dean December 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Wow, this bird is more powerful than the LCS! LOL


EW3 December 19, 2013 at 12:46 am

The GD LCS can carry two in the hangar and two more of these on the flight deck.
Pretty good punch.


Bman December 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

Ah Ha! Your a genius. You found the motivation behind the powerful upgrades. Perhaps they said screw it, lets give LCS an air defense capability and maybe some very marginal ASW options and leave the rest to the helos which would be their only true offensive capability.


Negro Diente December 19, 2013 at 2:44 am

MK-50 torpedoes are no longer in service….were never widely deployed in fact


Big-B December 19, 2013 at 5:08 am

Any info if the gun will be a nose turret?


d. kellogg December 19, 2013 at 7:35 am

The nose is occupied by the FLIR turret externally and too many avionics internally.
It would take a major redesign of everything forward of the pilots' seats and dashboard/console to accomodate even a ~small~ turret, feed chutes, and magazine like the Cobras use.

More than likely, the weapons will be pylon slung, podded types.
Perhaps swivel mounts in the side doors, but that would be a first, actually. Even the heavier Stallions and Chinooks only door-mount miniguns (7.62mm M134),
or singular M240s (7.62) or 50-cals, but no 3-barrel 20mm's.


FormerDirtDart December 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

Old school M197s on swivel door mounts
1) http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/equip/m197-…
2) http://sobchak.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/xmm61_…


Kuzinov December 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I would think winglet mounted. I see it's been used on both the Cobra and the Bronco. My guess because it's 20mm, it would be winglet mounted, on a semi-flexible mount. I can't see a gun that large being used by a door gunner, I see it being used with the main targetting system(s).


FormerDirtDart December 19, 2013 at 8:40 am

M197 20mm gatling gun mounted on MH-60S of HSC-21 Black Jacks http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8209/8200848441_3d7…


Big-B December 19, 2013 at 8:43 am

What a beast :-)


FormerDirtDart December 19, 2013 at 8:51 am

Couldn't edit my post before Big-B commented.
Further images of mounts on other a/c seem to suggest the above starboard side mounting is likely for transport, and not operational. The muzzle blast shield is directed outward, instead of between the muzzle and a/c, and what appears to be an ammunition feed port it directed out away from the a/c.
See additional port side mounts:
1) http://goo.gl/kABFKs
2) http://goo.gl/OAiEJn
3) http://goo.gl/XVWB0m


Hunter76 December 19, 2013 at 9:34 am

20 mm is right-sized against swarm boats. MGs are definitely too small at typical helo-boat ranges. Bigger targets?- those torpedoes and rockets become useful.


blight_ December 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

It's also a range issue. If you assume the boats are doing fifty-cals, you want to out-range them. But boats with a guy carrying Iglas or Stelas with a 23mm will make it an interesting fight.


d. kellogg December 19, 2013 at 11:48 am

So then skip the 3-barrel 20 and opt for the M230LF variant of the Apache's 30mm….ranges to 4000m or bettrer with very capable accuracy.
HEI and HEDP more than sufficient for any worries.


blight_ December 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I'm sure the thought has crossed their minds.


FormerDirtDart December 19, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS)
RAMICS uses a gated electro-optic Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor for target re-acquisition and a 30mm MK44 Bushmaster II gun for neutralization. http://www.aviationtrivia.info/images/RAMICS.jpg


BlackOwl18E December 19, 2013 at 10:25 am

First off, I think this is an awesome idea. Secondly, I am really disappointed in Defensetech for choosing to cover this over Brazil's purchase of the JAS-39 Gripen NG. That is by far the biggest and most relevant story around right now.


Big-B December 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

i missed that info here too. will the intel the nsa got out of brazil be worth the lost 4 billion deal?


d. kellogg December 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Don't take the rumor mill without a grain of salt,
but have read in a forum or two that there were multiple kill points for the Super Hornet.
One was Derby: Brazil uses it, but Boeing was (suggested) more adamant about pushing latest Sidewinder integration, and there was speculation maybe security concerns in offering Brazil latest AMRAAMs to equip on SH (especially when latest Derbys are more than sufficient for Brazil's "security needs", and we don't want some issue of a pilot defecting to Venezuela with an SH for Russia or china to eventually get its hands on…PARANOID!).

Another issue that crept up, the magnitude of its credence still to be determined, is that US State Department voiced its concerns over what it refers to as ~insufficiently addressed~ issues concerning child prostitution involved around the World Cup soccer stadium construction (Manaus), as well as in other areas of Brazil: the US ~supposedly~ despises such practices (human trafficking included), and some circles have suggested State Department may have pressured Boeing as well, just to what to extent though is anyone's guess.

The sick stench of international politics is involved, regardless of where any ~rumors~ come from.


Will December 19, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Dassault was reportedly in the lead in that race up until last week or so, for the Rafale. The F/A 18 was running 3rd at best & probably became KIA walking after Snowden disclosed that the NSA was monitoring Brazilian telecom.


obs December 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

"adding laser-guided precision rockets" In other words, laser-guided missiles.


DocAnders December 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm

They may be referring to one of the systems based of the Hydra 70 rocket.


blight_ December 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

It's a semantic thing. If you take a dumb rocket and add a guidance system, does it become a missile?


obs December 19, 2013 at 10:41 am

"The MH-60R is equipped with two torpedos, the Mk 50 and Mk 54 as well as rockets and small arms."

The appropriate word is armed, not equipped. The plural of torpedo is torpedoes, not torpedos.

This site should have its articles checked by editors, before posting them.


blight_ December 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

Editors cost too much, even freelance/part-timers


Hunter76 December 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Nit-picking gone major league. "Equipped" is more general (imprecise), but still correct (appropriate). It's stylistically defensible because it avoids repeating "arm" later in the sentence.

The plural of torpedo? It has to be clear. I believe there are anachronisms in the language that are best abolished, if we want the language to survive. The simple s is the standard rule for pluralization, there should be good reason to violate it. What value has the e added?


Really? December 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Can the Gatling Gun shoot down incoming MANPAD missiles? I highly doubt it. More tax dollars to the coffers of contractors for nothing.


Kuzinov December 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm

What are you smoking? You don't use machine guns or cannons against MANPADS, you use decoys and flares, the engagement ranges are usually too short to acquire, target, then shoot down a missile. Your criticism is foolish. It's actually money well-spent, it was armed to the teeth, yet, couldn't engage a small motorboat or other craft, the gun upgrade allows them to do so.


Really? December 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

decoys and flares? Really? Are we still in the 80s and early 90s?

Better steer clear of places where modern MANPADS are in stock. ;)


Kuzinov December 19, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Why do you think MANPADS are so dangerous? But, the average UH-60 has very little protection, one because there's too many to equip fully. Secondly, because an unguided RPG is a much larger threat with no countermeasure. Taking off or landing is not just a dangerous time because of just flying in general, it's also a time when you're begging to get shot down by something. MANPADS, light arms, RPGS, rocks.

Your thought train of equipping helicopters with miniguns to shoot down MANPADS just shows a complete lack of understanding of how things work and realistic approaches to problems. Most MANPADS that would be encountered in the field, are IR seeking, the best defenses available are jammers and flares. You seem to be under the impression that somebody came out with flares and all development stopped. They constantly update the flares and chaff to be more and more effective to counter realistic threats. I.E., they've pretty much figured out how to older Russian MANPADS, at a decent percentage. BTW, flares are older than the 80s, try the 60s. Why do they use chaff (invented in WW2) and flares (Vietnam Era)? Because they still work, we just know more about the subtleties about HOW they work. Plus, you're forgetting the sometimes-you're-just-pooched principle.


Really? December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Not even close. Flares and chaff aren't working anymore against latest MANPADs. That's what I'm saying. And I never implied equipping helicopters with guns to shoot down MANPADs. I was ridiculing the decision to put Gatling gun on it. You need to get over this delusion that if someone is still using something, it must be still working. It all depends what the other side has in stock. You are still living in the 80s.

STemplar December 19, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Good luck with those MANPADs or anything. Weather forecast in the Straits of Hormuz the next couple days are sea state 3ish to 4ish. I wouldn't wanna be on any scow when some suicidal jihadi lunk head pulls out a rocket to shoot it, thank you very much.


Really? December 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm


tmb2 December 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm

The upgrades are for ground/surface warfare. The H-60 series already has systems to protect against MANPADS.


Really? December 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

The H-60 already has protection against MANPADS? Really? Like what?


Kuzinov December 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Um, have you heard of Google or Wikipedia? Look it the hell up and do your own research.


Really? December 19, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Really? That's the best you got? The verdict is already in: Gatling gun on helicopter is a donkey move. But then, the Navy is full of donkeys. So it fits.

Kuzinov December 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Flares, chaff, and IR Jammers are your best bet against MANPADS. Yeah, we still use them, they work. Did it ever dawn on you why you sometimes see planes in bad places firing off chaff and flares on take-off? It's because there's a high threat that somebody might try to launch a MANPAD nearby. But, please continue to get indignant about an area you obviously know little about.


Will December 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Cool photo, but aren't those Hellfires on the wing racks? AGM-114 aren't mentioned in the post.


tmb2 December 19, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I'm guessing they've been equipped on this model for some time while the minigun is a new addition.


William_C1 December 20, 2013 at 1:04 am

So is the M197 fired from the cabin or mounted on one of the wing pylons like the 30mm M230 chain gun can be?


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