A thin layer of frost coated the landscape early this morning in Nowra, a coastal city 100 miles south of Sydney, Australia. It’s spring here, a time of renewal and rebirth – for flora, fauna, and today, for a helicopter squadron.
The first of an eventual fleet of 24 MH-60R “Romeo” maritime helicopters arrived in Nowra last October. Their home: HMAS Albatross, the largest operational naval establishment and the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) only Air Station. Today, RAN Commander David Frost, officially commissioned the MH-60R’s training Squadron, known as 725 Squadron (motto: Be Aggressive) and welcomed the aircraft to the fleet.
“This is an important milestone for the Navy,” said Commander Frost. “These maritime combat helicopters are the next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopters. They provide the Navy with multi-mission and multi-target precision strike capabilities and increase the Navy’s versatility and potency as a high-end fighting force.”
Originally founded in 1943 and first used for anti-submarine training in 1959, 725 Squadron is the perfect training hub for the new sub-hunting MH-60R helicopters.
“The 725 Squadron has a distinguished military history that goes back more than 70 years. We’re honoured that the squadron will continue its tradition of helicopter and anti-submarine operations and training with the MH-60R,” said Raydon Gates, chief executive for Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand. “On behalf of Lockheed Martin, I also offer my congratulations to the Royal Australian Navy and Commander David Frost on the commissioning of 725 Squadron.”
On June 1, 2015, the Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky team delivered the 12th of 24 MH-60R missionized aircraft to the RAN – and all aircraft were delivered ahead of schedule. Seven helicopters will be used by training squadron 725, and 17 helicopters will be used by operational squadron 816, deployed at sea on board RAN surface combatants.
The RAN will receive its full complement of 24 MH-60R maritime combat helicopters by 2016.
The MH-60R, with its proven sensors and systems, will provide the RAN with advanced anti-submarine (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) capabilities. The helicopter serves as the cornerstone of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations, capable of detecting and prosecuting modern submarines in littoral and open ocean scenarios. Australia was the first international country to buy MH-60Rs. Denmark purchased nine Romeos and its first aircraft will be delivered in late-2015. The first Danish MH-60R aircraft is flying, without its mission systems. It was only 22 months from letter of agreement signing to having non-missionized Danish MH-60Rs in the air.
The MH-60R “Romeo” is the most capable and mature Anti-Submarine (ASW)/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) multi-mission helicopter available in the world today. The MH-60R, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, and equipped with advanced mission systems and sensors by Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS), is capable of detecting and prosecuting modern submarines in littoral and open ocean scenarios.