The Team Romeo group of companies bidding for the RAN’s Air 9000 Phase 8 Naval helicopter program, comprising Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, Raytheon, GE and CAE, has proposed to refurbish the ADF’s outgoing fleet of 50 S-70A Black Hawks and S-70B Seahawks for sale to a third party as part of its bid.
Speaking to media in Sydney on April 16, Sikorsky’s general manager business development, Chris Clapperton said the Team Romeo proposal would see the aircraft refurbished after they leave ADF service, and offered to the market where they are expected to be attractive to emergency services such as police or fire fighting organisations. Such a move would see Team Romeo take responsibility for the de-militarisation and on-selling of the aircraft, a process which can often be a slow and bureaucratic one when dealing with US State Department rules for the sale of military aircraft of US origin, but is something with which Sikorsky has experience.
The refurbishment would concentrate on the aircraft’s engines and dynamic components, an airframe structural life extension enhancement, and an upgrade of the helicopters’ avionics to a near common configuration.
The Army’s fleet of 34 Black Hawks is currently being replaced by MRH 90 troop transports, while the Navy’s 16 Seahawks will be replaced by either the MH-60R or the Eurocopter NH 90 NFH from 2013. Team Romeo says it is expecting a decision on the successful tender in early 2011.