The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified Congress of a potential foreign military sale (FMS) of ten MH-60R and 12 MH-60S Seahawk multi-mission helicopters to Qatar.
Under the estimated $2.5bn sale, Qatar has also requested for the supply of an armed helicopter modification kit, a total of 48 T-700 GE 401C Engines, communication equipment, spare engine containers, support, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, as well as logistical support services.
The potential sale also includes an option for the late acquisition of six additional MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, along with the armed helicopter modification kit and 13 T-700 GE 401C engines.
According to the notification, the new helicopters will supplement and eventually replace the Qatar Emiri Air Force's (QEAF) ageing maritime patrol helicopters, subsequently improving the country's ability to meet current and future anti-surface warfare threats and strengthen Qatar's homeland defences.
The sale is also intended to provide Qatar with enhanced interoperability with the US forces, offering benefits for training and possible future coalition operations in support of shared regional security objectives.
Sikorsky Aircraft, Lockheed Martin and General Electric will serve as prime contractors for the programme.
Built by Sikorsky, the MH-60 Seahawk is a twin-engine, multi-mission helicopter capable of performing anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, naval special warfare insertion, search and rescue, and combat search and rescue missions.
Capable of engagement from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers in littoral zones, the MH-60R Seahawk is an advanced maritime helicopter, equipped with sensors and tactical data links to serve as a primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapons system.
The Qatar Emiri Air Force currently operates 12 Westland WS-61 Sea King Commando helicopters for maritime patrol missions.
Image: A US Navy MH-60R helicopter conducts an airborne low-frequency sonar operation at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy.