The Commonwealth of Australia has selected the U.S. Navyâ€™s MH-60R Seahawk helicopter as their preferred choice to fulfill the Australian Defence Forceâ€™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. Governmentâ€™s Foreign Military Sales program, marks the first-ever procurement of the U.S. Navyâ€™s most advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter outside the United States.
â€œThe MH-60R Romeo helicopter will fill a critical maritime warfare capability for the Royal Australian Navy,â€ said Rear Adm. Steven R. Eastburg, Program Executive Officer, Air, ASW, Assault and Special Mission programs. â€œU.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.â€
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.
Australiaâ€™s Phase 8 requirement seeks a replacement capability for the Royal Australian Navyâ€™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