Lockheed Martin has delivered the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter to the U.S. Navy in support of the Navy’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The milestone delivery took place during a July 27 ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York facility.
The event marked the official transfer of ownership of the final MH-60R SEAHAWK destined for the RAN from Lockheed Martin to the U.S. Navy. The ceremony was attended by officials from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the RAN and the Australian Embassy, as well as representatives from the Defense Contracting Management Agency, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin.
“In late 2010, the Australian Government had not yet made a decision to acquire the Romeo, and yet here we are in mid-2016 accepting the 24th, and final, aircraft,” said Royal Australian Navy Commodore Scott Lockey, Director General Navy Aviation Systems. “The Royal Australian Navy has formed the first three embarked flights, conducted the first Hellfire Missile shoot and conducted a highly successful ‘DIPEX’ against a Collins Class submarine. None of this would have been possible without the professional work conducted by everyone at Lockheed Martin involved in the Romeo program. The work done here at Owego has been of the highest quality and directly contributed to the most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force.”
The Commonwealth of Australia chose the MH-60R “Romeo” SEAHAWK helicopter in June 2011 to fulfill the Australian Defence Force’s requirement for a fleet of 24 new-generation, multi-role naval combat aircraft. In addition to the MH-60R helicopter’s primary mission areas of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, it also has the capability for secondary missions including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and VHF/UHF/link communication relay. The new MH-60R helicopters are currently replacing the RAN’s existing fleet of S-70B-2 SEAHAWK helicopters.
“This is a very exciting time for the U.S. Navy and Australia. Although today is significant in marking the last Seahawk delivery to the Royal Australian Navy, it also signifies a great opportunity to continue and grow our collaboration in advanced maritime operations,” said Captain Craig Grubb, H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter program manager. “I’m proud of the team’s accomplishments and look forward to our continued partnership with the RAN.”
The sale to Australia marked the first international sale of a U.S. Navy MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter. The RAN took in-country delivery of its first mission-ready aircraft in 2014, and the MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter training Squadron, 725 Squadron, was commissioned in Nowra, New South Wales in June 2015.
“This delivery is a testament to seamless teamwork between industry, the U.S. Navy and Australia’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, which has kept this program on-budget and on-schedule,” said Lockheed Martin Director of Naval Helicopter Programs Tom Kane. “From aircraft delivery to training and long-term sustainment, we are honored to support the Australian Defence Force and ensure that the Romeo maintains superior capability and performance throughout its life.”
In 2015, the Romeo Project Office in Australia’s Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group won a “Project of the Year” award for the RAN MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter program from the Australian Capital Territory chapter of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). The AIPM award serves to recognize, honor and promote recognition of the program’s outstanding achievements in program and project management.
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin support the RAN fleet through the Maritime Helicopter Support Company (MHSCo), which provides ‘Through Life Support’ logistics services to sustain peak flight readiness for the RAN SEAHAWK helicopters during the fleet’s estimated 30-year lifespan.