Romeo rising – first RAN MH-60R flies
The first of 24 MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy successfully competed its first flight from Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut facility on June 26.
The aircraft undertook a number of checks during the flight, including of controllability, engine performance, vibration analysis and navigation. With ‘contractor flight acceptance’ now completed, the MH-60R will now be transferred to Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York state facility for integration of its mission systems and sensors.
Defence Material Minister Mike Kelly said in a statement that a further three RAN Romeos are currently in various stages of assembly, with the first two planned to be handed over to the Navy in December 2013.
“The RAN will very shortly be flying the most capable Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface helicopter in the world and it will be a quantum increase to our current helicopter force – both in numbers and capability,” Commodore Vince Di Pietro, Commander of the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, said.
The 24 MH-60Rs are being acquired under the $3 billion AIR 9000 Phase 8 project to replace the RAN’s existing 16 S-70B-2 Seahawks and the capability gap left by the cancellation of the SH-2G(A) Super Seasprite program.