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News ArticleCS
NEWS | April 19, 2024

HSM-79, Marine Nationale test MH-60S interoperability

By Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs

Aviators and Sailors assigned to the “Griffins” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79 and French Navy conducted initial interoperability testing on the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) and multipurpose frigate (FREMM) classes of French ships in Toulon, France, April 11-15.

These first-of-their-kind tests, conducted by engineers from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21, are aimed at determining the feasibility of U.S. MH-60 Seahawk helicopters deploying on French vessels. Signed in December 2021, the Strategic Interoperability Framework (SIF) is a living, scalable plan that organizes capability, capacity, and interoperability targets to ensure high-end warfighting interoperability between the U.S. Navy (USN) and France’s Marine Nationale (MN). This shared approach aims to close critical capability gaps and coordinate cooperative efforts across echelons and regional commands to deliver interoperable naval forces to fleet commanders.

In November 2023, Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) hosted Rear Adm. Serge Bordarier, Commander, Naval Aviation Force, French Navy to conduct plenary sessions with subject matter experts within the Naval Aviation Enterprise, as well as subject matter experts from the MN. Two new end state goals were identified: the ability to deploy an MH-60S detachment aboard a PHA-class MN ship, and an MH-60R detachment aboard a FREMM-class MN ship.

In July 2023, NAVAIR engineers conducted an initial site visit where they had an opportunity to visit both PHA and FREMM class ships. Following the staff talks in November 2023, France invited the USN to conduct pier-side testing in Toulon, as this was determined to be the next logical step integrating a USN aircraft aboard a French vessel.

This is the first time interoperability of MH-60s onto French vessels has been tested to this degree. However, there has been no determination as to whether or not U.S. assets will deploy on MN vessels in the future. CNAF is the type commander for Naval Aviation that oversees the Navy’s aircraft wings, squadrons, aircraft carriers, support facilities and training commands. Naval Aviation is the forefront of our Navy’s power projection and forward operational presence. We continue to be
the cornerstone of a lethal, agile, resilient, and readily adaptable distributed maritime force.

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