When the US Navy sought a replacement for its CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, Sikorsky put forward a proposal for a hybrid hawk. The proposed aircraft would essentially be a UH-60L airframe with an SH-60 engine, drivetrain and rotor system. Two of the key features of the MH-60S airframe is the dual cabin door (port and starboard side) as well as the far aft-mounted tailwheel, all features of the UH-60 airframe.
All of the H-60 airframes operated by the US Navy were based upon the initial SH-60B, notable for the single cabin door on the starboard side and the twin-wheel tailwheel mounted near the rear of the main cabin. The location of the tailwheel was critical to support Seahawk operations from the smallest flight decks aboard frigates and destroyers. The rear-mounted tailwheel on the Army’s Blackhawk would make that aircraft’s footprint too large for anything but an aircraft carrier or amphib flight deck. Up until the MH-60S, the SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, and MH-60R were all based upon that SH-60B footprint.
This new aircraft was initially designated CH-60S to be a direct replacement for the CH-46, but this was changed to MH-60S to reflect its multi-mission capability from vertical replenishment (VERTREP) and transport to search and rescue, from special operations support to anti-surface warfare. At one point the MH-60S was also going to tow an anti-mine sled but the aircraft lacked the power and that mission was reassigned. The nose-mounted FLIR gives the aircraft nighttime capabilities while the detachable wings can carry external fuel, Hellfire missiles, rockets or guns. The cockpit has the first all-glass cockpit in the Blackhawk family providing greater flexibility and situational awareness.