RAN N48 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk
|The Australian Government
announced the approval of the acquisition of 24 MH-60R
Seahawk Romeo naval combat helicopters at a
cost of over $3 billion on 16 June 2011.
At the same time, Defence signed a Letter of Agreement for the acquisition with the United States Government and the first two helicopters are due to arrive in mid-2014 for testing and evaluation. Operations are expected to commence in mid-2015.
The new helicopters will replace the Navys combat helicopter capability provided by 16 Seahawk S-70B-2 helicopters and will also provide the air to surface strike capability which was to have been provided by the cancelled Super Seasprite program. This follows a 15-month competitive acquisition process involving the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin built MH-60R and the NATO Helicopter Industries NH90 NFH assembled by Australian Aerospace.
The helicopters are largely military off-the-shelf built by Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin and will be purchased through the Foreign Military Sales process from the US Navy.
Acquisition of 24 Romeos under Project AIR 9000 Phase 8 is intended to give the RAN the capacity to provide at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time, including Anzac Class Frigates and the new Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers.
The remainder will be based at Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, and will be in various stages of the regular maintenance and training cycle.
The MH-60R will be equipped with combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missile and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.
The first two MH-60R helicopters were formally accepted into service by NUSQN725 at Jacksonville in Florida on January 24.
The Author of this page is Brendan Cowan
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Updated 15th November 2014
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