If the expulsion of Turkey from the United States’ F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program was not enough, its most fierce rival, its Mediterranean neighbor Greece will soon field a “submarine killing” MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter, labeled by many the “Navy’s F-35”.
The two Mediterranean neighbors have been at loggerheads with each other over a dispute over energy exploration rights and maritime boundaries in the area, and the US’ growing military ties with Athens has been a thorn for Ankara.
In December last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey for going ahead with the plans of acquiring the S-400 defense systems from Russia despite repeated warnings against the deal.
Already battling with the repercussions of the deal, Turkey has now suffered another blow with the Pentagon deciding to approve the sale of four additional MH-60R Seahawk helicopters to Greece, which is likely to enhance Athens’ military capabilities.
This deal was a follow-up to Greece’s acquisition of seven Seahawk helicopters for a total worth of $600 million back in 2019. The four additional units will be delivered by February 2025, according to reports.
While Greece has gone ahead with plans of acquiring newer fighters like the French-made Dassault Rafales, it has shown immense interest in acquiring the US-made fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets.
And, while there have been no reports of a deal in place for that at the moment, as per a senior Pentagon official, the Seahawk helicopters could be the Greek Navy’s F-35 fighters.
“These (Seahawks) are the Navy F-35s. Such advanced technology. They have high-level capabilities to scan areas from a distance of tens of miles, overlooking virtually the entire Aegean. You may have an image from Tainaro on the other side of the Eastern Aegean. They are considered multi-tools of battle. They also have capabilities against surface targets,” said the official, as reported in the Greek news website, Pentapostgma.
Built by American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter is a twin-engine, multi-mission, all-weather naval utility helicopter based on the Army’s UH-60 BlackHawk.
The helicopter is used for a variety of roles which include anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) operations.
The helicopter is claimed to be the most advanced maritime helicopter on the face of the planet. It can be deployed on any air-capable vessel, be it frigates, destroyers, aircraft carriers, cruisers, fast combat ships, amphibious assault ships, or the navy’s new littoral combat ships.
Moreover, the offensive capabilities of the helicopter are improved by the addition of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles. All Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons that receive the Romeo are redesignated Helicopter, Strike Maritime (HSM) squadrons.
Greece is the sixth nation to procure the game-changing naval helicopter and joins the likes of the US, Australia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, and India.
As per Lockheed Martin, the Hellenic Navy is taking a quantum leap forward in naval technology with the possession of the advanced maritime helicopter.
Captain Todd Evans, H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter Program Manager, was also in sync with the above observation and said – “We are pleased the government of Greece has selected the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R. We are confident that this aircraft will provide unparalleled capability to the Hellenic Navy for years to come.”