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Romeo chosen to replace Navy Seahawks

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 16, 2011
A US Navy MH-60R.

The Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin MH-60R ‘Romeo’ has been selected ahead of the NH90 NFH to fulfill Defence’s Air 9000 Phase 8 requirement to replace the Navy’s current S-70B Seahawks and the capability gap left by the cancelled SH-2G(A) Seasprites, Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced today.

Twenty-four Romeos will be acquired under the $3 billion dollar program, for delivery over the 2014-2016 period.

“It’s a proven capability – it’s currently being used by the US Navy. It is the updated version of the Seahawk that we currently use which it is replacing,” Smith told reporters.

The new helicopters will operate from Anzac and upgraded FFG frigates, plus the forthcoming air warfare destroyers and LHDs. They will be based at Naval Air Station Nowra.

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Comments (18)

  • Sammy


    Thank goodness we’re not getting the NH90’s just yet. While they are nice aircraft, we’ve already got Seahawks, so we’ve already got parts and trained mechanics/fitters etc. Did I mention that unlike the NH90, it will work well in Australian conditions, can carry short range AGM’s as well as larger ones…and it has been proven to work in hot+high environments. Something European helicopters (such as Tiger, operating near Darwin….) lack.

  • Ben


    I think this result had more to do with Defence’s confidence in the prime contractors and less to do with the actual helicopters.

  • Jim


    I’ve just spent 3 years with the MRH90s (NH90s), in 5-10 years time they might be a good helicopter but the Romeo is ready to go now, a good decision but I’ve also spent 5 years on Seahawks, and not having a cargo hook isn’t the best idea, they need to fix this.

  • Chris


    Finally some common sense has prevailed and we have purchased a proven off the shelf project. Look how smoothly the C17 acquisition went….

  • Steve


    Are we buying them from a hot production line via US Foreign Military Sales, or will Aust industry and DMO get a chance to bugger them up?

  • Blake


    Looks like defence did not want to risk another major project flop.. The new seahawk is a fine aircraft but is just about maxed out as far as capability increase is concerned. The NH90 is already a better and more capable aircraft than the seahawk with a fresh “from the ground up new design with new technology” and it hasn’t even reached its full potential yet.. Its a shame defence didn’t have the confidence in EADS becasue the NH90 would have the better longer term solution. Its only problem was that it was a few years behind the seahawk…

  • Wayne


    Smart buy. With the small numbers of kit we buy, off the shelf is the only way to go. Let the USN iron out the bugs first which they have. Super Hornet, C-17, CH-47F, C-130J all good buys because we didn’t let DMO mess with them..

  • Alex


    Well I think the seahawks is a better heli than the NH 90. It’s also better size aircraft to handle at sea on a small frigates and AWD we are getting in our navy.

  • Flight deck


    The correct decision to go with quality US kit …. and looong overdue. The NH90 and the ARH Tiger projects are a multi billion dollar disgrace and Australian taxpayers have been badly let down by both.
    The Romeo’s can work in hot and high conditions, are ready now and will do exactly what their manufacturers say they will.
    Which leads to the obvious question: is it too late to junk the dud ARH Tigers for Apaches and the dud NH90s for better Blackhawks? Apparently that very question is being posed in defence today.

  • Billy


    After 3 month fleet grounding following catastrophic engine failure of MRH90 near RAAF Edinburgh thru 2010 is anyone truly surprised by this news. Good deal for defence and taxpayers

  • Mike


    It’s a safe bet that they (DMO/Australian Defence) will be messing around with this apparently ‘off the shelf’ product pretty quickly. Is Australia, with their small numbers of aircraft, really going to stay with the stock air-surface weapons and put this expensive piece of hardware inside 8km range of an enemy battlegroup? Doubt it.

  • Beefer


    Having flown both and knowing what the RAN requires, I think this decision shows a lack of courage and imagination by Defence. It is the safe choice, undoubtedly, but it is low risk because it is also low payoff. We have compromised a lot of real-word (not high-end warfighting) capability with this decision, and in 5 years time I expect we will be looking enviously at those countries who selected NH90.

  • Jack T


    Regardless of which helo, don’t forget the people who have to operate it no matter what. I do not wish to witness again our sailors getting spat at by the general public at airshows if it all goes A up.

    While I’m at it, does Australian industry (or defence for that matter) have the capability to handle the new composite structure in the NH90? Are our engineers going to put their degrees up for use by being to be able to handle a simple question ‘Is that an acceptable crack?’. (hello again seasprite….)

    Why can’t we just accept ‘off the shelf’ and not create any ‘mission creep’? I have had enough of R and D, let’s just use it.

    One word and a lesson to learn, software.(Read S70B and Seasprite)

  • Chris


    Great descision. Buy a proven product, with proven support, off the shelf . And familiarity for the pilots, crews and techs.

    If EADS / Eurocopter / AA had put more effort into supporting the MRH90 they would have given themselves a fighting chance. Instead they have supplied us with a dud and almost no support.

    Maybe this explains the exodus of AA management from Brisbane?

  • R Inglis


    A clear win of the short term over the long term, financing over capability and politics over doctrine. Both the federal government and defence was on the horns of so many dilemmas this was the expedient choice.

    The capability is needed sooner rather than later but the best long term option isn’t ready yet. Both government and defence are both on the ropes on many fronts that neither couldn’t risk another DMO oversight of a disaster resplendent with over-hyped expectations, ivory towered approach to responsibilities, over reliance on spin resulting the inevitable bad press and political attack, endless delays, ever changing requirements, poor contract design and bad contract management, penny-wise dollar foolish inspired cost overruns and excruciating performance shrinkages if not outright cancellations.

    The result is the best of yesterdays naval helicopters. Like buying Hurricanes because we couldn’t wait for Mustangs.

    The small short range missile is a particularly bitter pill to swallow for navy and a potentially lethal one for the naval aviators who will have to get far to close any capable enemy. Hopefully an early upgrade to something harder hitting and longer range than Hellfire will be introduced by the Americans so the RAN can get it to.

  • Transtasman


    I understand why they’ve gone for the ‘Yank Tank”! But I think that the NH90 will prove in the end that it would have been a wiser choice for the long term………………………………………………………..

  • kenny


    the germans wont use either the tiger or nh90 both are failures maybe the merlin needed to be looked at. we have a history of screw ups with french gear. point, regardless of the effectness of the old lady of the sky (mirage) not all the tec documents had been translated into. readable let alone understandable english on the day the last raafie stepped down form the last mirage. the styer was third choice the italian pak howitzer was no good in vietnam and our new destroyers will only do a few more knots than a world war 1 destroyer. me bethinks that apart from the leopard uboat tank we seem to get o lot of euro trash and the yank f35 in also a dud same capabilities as an f101 and stealth only works off front to 29degrees left and right of centre and we always replace a system with less of the next.

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