Greece has exercised an option to buy three more MH-60R anti-submarine warfare helicopters taking the total order to seven besides requesting the United States to accelerate delivery of the first three to 2021.
The move is seen in the context of the Greek-Turkey showdown in the Eastern Mediterranean over control of seabed prospecting and control over overlapping exclusive economic zones.
The Greek Ministry of Defence had signed a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) for 4 MH-60R helicopters with the US government under the foreign military sales (FMS) program in July 2020. A request was sent recently to amend the contract by activating the option to purchase another 3 MH-60R helicopters, Greek publication Ptisidiastima reported.
The new MH-60R helicopters will replace the Agusta Bell 212 in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions. In addition, combined with 11 modernized Sikorsky S-70B6 they will be the “long” arm of the Hellenic Navy for missions against submarines and ships in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.
Armed with missiles and having state-of-the-sensors, the helicopters are expected to protect Greek naval and merchant ships from asymmetric threats.
In view of recent showdown between the Greek and Turkish navies over the past few months, efforts are being made for the first 3 MH-60R helicopters to be delivered in 2021. The US Navy is seriously considering this possibility and together with the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin is considering possible ways to meet the pressing needs of the Hellenic Navy, the publication said.
The Greek MH-60R will come fully armed with Hellfire missiles, guided rockets and modern Mk.54 torpedoes which should be a cause for worry for the Turkish Navy.