Royal Australian Navy MH-60R Helicopter Program Builds on 2014 Success
For the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R “Romeo” helicopter program, 2014 was a year of milestones. After taking delivery of its first pair of aircraft in December 2013, the RAN surpassed 1,000 flight hours of testing and demonstrating the advanced capabilities of the MH-60R’s torpedoes and missiles. Nine aircraft were delivered to the RAN in 2014, all ahead of schedule or on schedule. Australia welcomed its first aircraft in-country just four years after the initial contract was signed between the U.S. and Australia.
In 2015, the RAN will receive eight additional aircraft, bringing the total fleet of MH-60R helicopters to 15. All 24 aircraft will be delivered to the RAN by 2016.
In June 2011, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy responded to the Australian Defence Force’s need for a fleet of new-generation, multi-role naval combat aircraft. 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 already 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.
“The anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities of the MH-60 Romeo are a game-changer in shifting the advantage from the submarine to the helicopter, which is essential in today’s maritime security environment,” said Rear Admiral CJ Jaynes, Program Executive Officer for Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programs, United States Navy, which oversees the U.S. Navy’s H-60 program office. “We are excited to extend our partnership with the Royal Australian Navy through their acceptance of these advanced helicopters.”
Aboard the MH-60R, sensor data is integrated into actionable information for the three-member crew. The mission systems compile data from onboard and offboard sensors to create an integrated picture that allows the helicopter to identify, locate, track and prosecute threats.
“MH-60R helicopters shift the advantage from the submarine to the helicopter, effectively addressing today’s increasing submarine and surface warfare threats,” said Lockheed Martin Vice President of Aviation and Unmanned Systems Dan Spoor. “We are honored to partner with Sikorsky Aircraft, the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Navy to deliver these capabilities.”
In addition to the MH-60R’s unmatched capability in its primary mission areas of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, it also has the capability for secondary missions such as search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and VHF/UHF/link communication relay.
“The Seahawk Romeo is an evolutionary step forward from the Seahawk ‘Classic’ it replaces. The Romeo builds on the known and trusted Seahawk air vehicle, incorporating state-of-the-art sensors in an open architecture, integrated mission system. The Romeo is a potent maritime combat helicopter,” said Rear Adm. Tony Dalton who heads the Australian Defence Organisation’s Helicopter Systems Division. “We look forward to sharing in the U.S. Navy’s ongoing technology upgrades and continuing to build upon the proven capabilities.”
All international MH-60R partners can share in the U.S. Navy’s ongoing technical insertion roadmap, mitigating obsolescence and keeping pace and ahead of the maritime threats for the next 30 years and beyond.