The South Korean arms procurement agency (DAPA) announced its decision to purchase Sikorsky’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter for the Republic of Korea Navy’s anti-submarine warfare tasks.
South Korea said it would sign a contract worth an estimated $878 million with Lockheed Martin for the delivery of a total of 12 Seahawks.
Deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025.
The decision to go with the US-built helicopter was an unexpected one, considering the fact that the Italian helicopter builder Leonardo, who already delivered the AW159 Wildcat to the Korean Navy, was viewed as a favorite in the competition.
The purchase of the AW159 Wildcat was part of the first batch of the navy’s maritime operational helicopter (MOH) program.
Competitors for the second batch of the program, which has now been won by Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky, included Leonardo and NHIndustries.
According to an August 2019 sale clearance from the US state department, South Korea could also buy multi-mode radars, airborne low frequency sonar systems, M-240D and GAU-21 crew served guns, among other equipment.
The MH-60R Sea Hawk is in service with the US Navy and performs anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electromagnetic warfare, surveillance and other missions.
South Korea is becoming the seventh operator of the helicopter, joining the US, Greece, Australia, Denmark, Saudi Arabia and India.