Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Tunisia to gain 12 Sikorsky SH-60F multimission helicopters

Tunisia is to receive 12 refursbished Sikorsky SH-60F Oceanhawk multimission utility helicopters from surplus American stocks, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) says. Tunisia will be the first African user of the SH-60, although the UH-60 Black Hawk is in service with Morocco and Egypt.

The DSCA has notified the US Congress the rotorcraft are being provided as Excess Defense Articles and that the refurbishment as well as associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support will cost US taxpayers an estimated $282 million.

The DSCA says the proposed sale will “enhance the modernisation of the Tunisian Air Force's (TAF) overwater search and rescue capability and enable continued interoperability with US Armed Forces and other coalition partners in the region.” It adds that the proposed sale “will further improve Tunisia's overall ability to perform humanitarian missions, search and rescue, medical evacuations, fire-fighting, and to maintain the integrity of its borders.” Tunisia will have no difficulty absorbing the helicopters into its armed forces, the DSCA avers.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for economic and military progress in North Africa,” the DSCA adds. “The sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

The TAF does not currently operate the Oceanhawk, flying a mix of French and older US designs instead. The 2010 Military Balance published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says the North African Nation operates six Eurocopter AS-350B Squirrel, 15 Agusta Bell AB205, 11 Sikorsky HH-3 Pelican, one Eurocopter AS-365 Dauphin, six Aerospatiale SA-313 Alouette II, 3 Aerospatiale SA-316 Alouette III, 10 Bell UH-1H Iroquois and two UH-1N Iroquois.

The wikipedia notes the Oceanhawk was developed to replace the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, ith work begining in 1985. The SH-60F serves as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue (SAR) aircraft. US examples hunt submarines with the AN/AQS-13F dipping sonar, and carry 14 sonobuoys. The SH-60F can carry the Mk 46, MK 50, or MK 54 torpedo and a choice of cabin-mounted machine guns, including the M60D, M240D, and GAU-16 (50 CAL) for self-defence. Standard crew complement is one pilot, one copilot, one enlisted tactical sensor operator (TSO), and one enlisted acoustic sensor operator (ASO).

General characteristics
  • Crew: 3–4
  • Capacity: 5 passengers in cabin or slung load of 6,000 lb or internal load of 4,100 lb
  • Length: 64 ft 8 in (19.75 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 53 ft 8 in (16.35 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 2 in (5.2 m)
  • Disc area: 2,262 ft² (210 m²)
  • Empty weight: 15,200 lb (6,895 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 17,758 lb (8,055 kg) (ASW mission)
  • Useful load: 6,684 lb (3,031 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 21,884 lb (9,927 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2× General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft, 1,890 shp (1,410 kW) take-off power each
Performance
  • Maximum speed: 180 kn (333 km/h; 207 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 146 kn (270 km/h; 168 mph)
  • Range: 450 nmi (518 mi/834 km) at cruise speed
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (3,580 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,650 ft/min (8.38 m/s)
Armament
  • Up to three Mark 46 torpedos or Mark 50 torpedos,
  • AGM-114 Hellfire missile, 4 Hellfire missiles for SH-60B and HH-60H, 8 Hellfire missiles for MH-60S Block III.
  • M60 machine gun or, M240 machine gun or GAU-16/A machine gun or GAU-17/A Minigun
  • Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) using Mk 44 Mod 0 30 mm Cannon
Pic: A Sikorsky SH60 in US Navy livery

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