The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a firm fixed-price contract to produce an additional 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk® helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy.
FILE PHOTO: An embarked MH-60 Romeo helicopter prepares to land onboard HMAS Adelaide. Photo by Able Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill.
Procured via the US government’s Foreign Military Sales agreement, the new aircraft will add a third ‘Romeo’ squadron to the RAN’s Fleet Air Arm.
Vice president Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems Hamid Salim said the ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter instilled confidence in navies world wide for its high operational availability in the harsh maritime environment, and for the fully integrated mission systems and sensors that quickly generate a complete picture of the surface and subsurface domains.
“We thank the RAN for showing confidence in the broad mission flexibility of this proven multi-role helicopter,” Mr Salim said.
“Ongoing and planned upgrades to the MH-60R through partnership with the US Navy, RAN, other international partners and industry will ensure the aircraft’s reliability and mission effectiveness against emerging threats for decades to come.”
Under Project SEA 9100 Phase 1 (Improved Embarked Logistics Support Helicopter Capability), the 12 new MH-60R aircraft will create a common fleet of maritime helicopters supporting all of the RAN’s air-capable platforms.
Head of Navy Capability for the Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral Peter Quinn said the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ multi-mission helicopter built upon a decade of partnership with the United States Navy and Lockheed Martin, and provide the Royal Australian Navy with an unparalleled maritime aviation platform.
“The versatility of the MH-60R to conduct a wide range of missions combined with the world-class support provided by our partners, was a significant factor in the decision by the RAN to make an additional investment in MH-60R under the SEA 9100 Phase 1 program,” Rear Admiral Quinn said.
Lockheed Martin plans to deliver all 12 MH-60R helicopters between mid-2025 and mid-2026.
Sikorsky Aircraft Australia Limited in Nowra, New South Wales, currently provides depot-level maintenance, supply support and logistics support for Australia’s MH-60R helicopter fleet.
The RAN was the first international navy to select the MH-60R helicopter, acquiring 24 aircraft from 2013 to 2016.
The Fleet Air Arm’s 725 and 816 squadrons based at Nowra have accumulated more than 30,000 flight hours embarked on frigates, destroyers and supply ships.