Sikorsky Australia has been selected by the US Navy to deliver sustainment support for the Royal Australian Navy’s new fleet of maritime combat helicopters. Sikorsky Australia, a Lockheed Martin company, will provide through-life sustainment support for the Navy’s fleet of MH-60R (Romeo) helicopters at their state of the art maintenance, logistics and repair organisation in Nowra, NSW. Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the agreement with the US Navy is a testament to the close ties between the two Navies. The Royal Australian Navy has established a Foreign Military Sales sustainment agreement with the United States Navy and this contract is an extension of the current contract arrangements.
“The US Navy play a pivotal and trusted role in the ongoing provision of support to this capability. The Morrison Government is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian defence industry through its unprecedented investment in defence capability over the next decade” Minister Reynolds said.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said,”The contract with Sikorsky demonstrates the opportunities that can be realised for Australian industry under a Foreign Military Sales arrangement.Based at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park in Nowra, this contract will sustain the existing workforce of 140 employees and create an additional 39 new positions, including several apprenticeships in the Shoalhaven Region of NSW.”
Australia originally acquired 16 S-70Bs the in the 1980s. Australia requested approval to buy 24 MH-60Rs through a Foreign Military Sale in July 2010. The MH-60R and the NHIndustries NH90 were evaluated by the Royal Australian Navy. On 16 June 2011, it was announced that Australia would purchase 24 of the MH-60R variant, to come into service between 2014 and 2020. The helicopter was selected to replace the RAN’s older Seahawks. The last of the 24 MH-60Rs was delivered to the RAN in September 2016. The S-70B-2 Seahawks were retired in December 2017 after 28 years in service with 11 have been sold to Skyline Aviation Group.
The MH-60R was originally known as “LAMPS Mark III Block II Upgrade” when development began in 1993 with Lockheed Martin (formerly IBM/Loral). Two SH-60Bs were converted by Sikorsky, the first of which made its maiden flight on 22 December 1999. Designated YSH-60R, they were delivered to NAS Patuxent River in 2001 for flight testing. The production variant was redesignated MH-60R to match its multi-mission capability. The MH-60R was formally deployed by the US Navy in 2006. Offensive capabilities are improved by the addition of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles. All Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light (HSL) squadrons that receive the Romeo are redesignated Helicopter, Strike Maritime (HSM) squadrons.