Australia selects U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter

The Commonwealth of Australia has selected the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter as their preferred choice to fulfill the Australian Defence Force’s AIR 9000 Phase 8 requirement for a fleet of 24 new-generation multi-role naval combat aircraft.

The selection of the MH-60R, which will be acquired via the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales program, marks the first-ever procurement of the U.S. Navy’s most advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter outside the United States.

“The MH-60R Romeo helicopter will fill a critical maritime warfare capability for the Royal Australian Navy,” said Rear Adm. Steven R. Eastburg, Program Executive Officer, Air, ASW, Assault and Special Mission programs. “U.S. naval forces have found the Romeo platform to be an operationally effective and reliable first responder for all missions and contingencies encountered at sea around the world.”

Besides performing its primary mission roles of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, the multi-role aircraft also can perform search and rescue, troop transport, medical evacuation, ship-to-ship replenishment and humanitarian relief operations.

The U.S. Navy was supported in its winning proposal by Team Romeo, consisting of MH-60R airframe manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft, mission systems integrator Lockheed Martin, engine manufacturer GE, sensor supplier Raytheon Corp., and training supplier CAE.

Australia’s Phase 8 requirement seeks a replacement capability for the Royal Australian Navy’s 16 existing S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, which entered service in the late 1980s. Team Romeo is expected to complete and deliver the first two MH-60R helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy in 2014.

Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have delivered 100 mission-ready MH-60R helicopters to the U.S. Navy since 2006. To date, six operational MH-60R squadrons have accumulated almost 100,000 flight hours.

The U.S. Navy is expected to procure a total of 300 MH-60R aircraft by 2017.

Team Romeo is currently delivering MH-60R aircraft to the U.S. Navy at the rate of 25-30 a year. The team has capacity to deliver 18 to 23 additional aircraft annually to Foreign Military Sales customers.

NAVAIR press release