The Spanish Navy has officially ordered the eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters it requested from the US government last year.
The procurement comes 19 months after the US State Department approved the request and notified Congress of the proposed $950-million foreign military sale.
According to manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the choppers will have advanced mission systems and sensors suitable for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
The Seahawks will reportedly significantly upgrade Spain’s maritime patrol capabilities amid the increasing threats in the European region.
The country has employed SH-60 helicopters to guard its maritime territories after decommissioning its decades-old SH-3 Sea King helicopters in 2022.
“The new MH-60R will upgrade … the SH-60B fleet, elevating the [Spanish Navy] to the highest level of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability,” the service said. “We expect a smooth transition from the SH-60B to the MH-60R.”
‘Ready, Capable, and Equipped’
In March 2022, the US government said Spain had requested 20 T-700-GE-401C engines, 32 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, and 100 WGU-59/B Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems in addition to the eight MH-60R choppers.
It also wanted airborne low-frequency sonars, missile warning systems, embedded global positioning systems, and identification friend-or-foe transponders.
Although it is unclear if the items were included in the recently-signed contract, the US State Department said the choppers alone will allow Spain to better respond to threats.
They can also support other missions, including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay.
“Spain’s confidence in the MH-60R is an attestation to our shared commitment to national security and the security of our allied nations,” US Navy H-60 program manager Capt. William Hargreaves explained.
He further stated that the new technologies integrated into the Madrid-bound MH-60R will allow the Spanish Navy “to remain a ready, capable, and equipped fleet.”