The first ever deep maintenance activity on a US Navy MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopter in Australia has been completed at Sikorsky Australia’s facilities in Nowra, NSW.
CAPTION: A pair of US Navy and Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters at the Sikorsky Australia facilities in Nowra, NSW. Story by Emma Taylor. Photo by Petty Officer Peter Thompson.
The US Navy aircraft arrived in Australia in October 2022 to undergo the deep maintenance activity, known as a planned maintenance interval (PMI), which was completed this month.
Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite marked the milestone with Australian and US Defence and industry representatives at the Sikorsky Australia facilities on June 26.
Commodore Darren Rae, Director General Navy Aviation and Aircrew Training, said the induction of the US Navy MH-60R into Australian facilities was a “strategically significant milestone” for Australia and the United States, who share priorities to strengthen supply-chain resilience in the Indo-Pacific.
“The principal aim of this activity was to demonstrate to the US the capability of Australian industry and the pathway available to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul of this helicopter in our region,” Commodore Rae said.
“This demonstration of Australian industry’s support to US Navy helicopter maintenance is a hallmark for the steady progress being made in the US-Australian alliance.”
Captain William Hargreaves, US Navy H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopters Program Manager, said the activity was important in strengthening ties between the two countries and allowing Australian industry to conduct maintenance as if the aircraft was on US soil.
“Demonstrating successful PMI on a US Navy MH-60R in Australia is a testament to our two nations’ shared trust and commitments in our century-long partnership with the Royal Australian Navy,” Captain Hargreaves said.
“Achieving this maintenance event expands our aircraft’s footprint, ensuring the fleet is ready to fight tonight.”
Sikorsky Australia, a Lockheed Martin company, is the Royal Australian Navy’s industry partner for delivering comprehensive deep-maintenance services and intermediate-level maintenance support for the Romeo helicopter.
Commodore Rae said Australia “has a world-class industry capability in Nowra that continues to be highly successful in supporting the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of Romeo helicopters”.
“The Sikorsky Australia team can now add the highly successful completion of this US Navy Romeo deep maintenance activity to its list of achievements,” he said.
Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand’s Chief Executive Warren McDonald said Sikorsky Australia was honoured to be entrusted by the Australian-US navies as their industry partner to execute this inaugural proof-of-concept service on a US Navy MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’.
“Sikorsky Australia’s skilled aircraft maintenance engineers have completed 46 PMIs on the Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60Rs,” Mr McDonald said.
“This experience combined with the Romeo configuration alignment and interchangeable maintenance procedures between our two navies enabled seamless integration of the US Navy Romeo into Sikorsky Australia’s maintenance program.
“Congratulations to the team, the Australian-US navies and Sikorsky Australia, on this exemplar PMI achievement.
“It underlines our shared commitment to advancing military interoperability, strengthening the MH-60R global supply chain, and showcases Australia’s world-class industrial capability to sustain the most advanced maritime helicopter, the MH-60R.”
The collaborative effort and dedication from teams in the Australian and US Navies have been recognised at the highest levels this year.
Australia’s former MH-60R Seahawk Romeo Helicopter Assurance Program Co-Lead, Commander Andrew Newman, was presented with a Conspicuous Service Cross in January 2023 for his outstanding achievements and devotion to pursuing this activity.
Similarly, the US Navy’s PMA-299 Special Project Team was awarded the NAVAIR Commander’s Business Innovation Award in May 2023 for their innovation, attention to detail and expertise, resulting in the first ever US Navy aviation deep maintenance activity by an Australian industrial partner.