NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- The Navy established Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71 in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, Oct. 4.
The first MH-60R squadron, HSM 71's aircraft is replacing the SH-60B and SH-60F aircraft due to possessing the combined capabilities of the two aircraft.
"The (MH-60R) aircraft changes the way we fly, the way we fight and the way we go to sea," said Rear Adm. Garry E. Hall, commander, Amphibious Group 2.
The Navy has been working to implement the MH-60R for more than a decade. HSM 71 is the first of five MH-60R squadrons; other MH-60R squadrons are expected to be established in the future.
"Now, we have one aircraft with all the capabilities of every (previous) aircraft," said Cmdr. Michael K. Nortier, HSM-71's commanding officer. "That's a significant change."
Although the mission requirements of the MH-60R will be similar to the SH-60B and SH-60F, the new aircraft features upgraded mission and flight displays, an improved advanced flight control computer and an integrated self-defense suite.
"This aircraft is the aircraft that is taking over the anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare helicopter missions for the U.S. Navy," said Lt. Carey Castilian, HSM 71's readiness officer. "It has the radar of the SH-60B and the sonar from the SH-60F."
Unlike traditional helicopter anti-submarine light squadrons, which deploy in separate detachments to small ships, HSM 71 will deploy to an aircraft carrier as part of the carrier air wing. HSM 71's first deployment is scheduled to be aboard USS John C. Stennis' (CVN 74) next deployment.
"We just got a new 'bird,' and it's a new squadron," said Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Joseph Grandas, assigned to HSM 71. "I feel it's more exciting than challenging."
HSM 71's primary mission will be to support surface and anti-submarine warfare, command, control and communications, command and control warfare and mobility and non-combat operations. The secondary mission will be to support search and rescue, medical evacuation, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support and communications relay.
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