South Korea is moving ahead with plans to buy MH-60R Seahawks, Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday. File Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Joseph A.D. Phillips/U.S. Navy
Dec. 15 (UPI) -- South Korea has agreed to purchase the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter to build its fleet of maritime helicopters, choosing the U.S. model over the AW159 Wildcat, a British multi-mission helicopter from Leonardo.
Seoul's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Tuesday the contract worth $878 million has been signed with Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., Yonhap and Newsis reported.
The announcement came during a meeting of Seoul's defense project promotion committee, which is pursuing anti-ship and anti-submarine operational capabilities through overseas purchases, according to reports.
A total of 12 MH-60R Seahawks are to be delivered to Korea by 2025 in phases. The twin turbo-shaft engine, multi-mission helicopter is based on the U.S. military's UH-60 Black Hawk. The Seahawk's integrated dipping sonar system allows it to detect and track submarines.
South Korea also agreed to pursue a "basic strategy" for its navy minesweepers -- small naval warships that can counter the threat of sea mines.
Ships of the minesweeper hunter class are used to respond to non-military events, including search-and-rescue missions and marine pollution incidents.
The ships look for and remove mines at major ports and in sea routes. The project, estimated to cost Seoul $1.7 billion, is to be carried out from 2022 to 2035, according to Newsis.
DAPA also agreed to improve the jamming systems on F-15K fighter aircraft. The purpose of the South Korean upgrade is to improve communications with the United States during joint missions and exercises, according to Seoul officials.
Upgrades are to be made to Link 16 Tactical Datalink and related equipment for fighter jets, and to Identification Friend or Foe, a radar-based identification system, the report said.
South Korea is also discontinuing its CH/HH-47D special operations helicopter project, intended for South Korea's army, because of cost constraints, according to Newsis.