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Romeo sim enters service

written by australianaviation.com.au | March 28, 2015
MH-60R Flight Simulator Acceptance
Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, and Head of the Defence Materiel Organisation – Helicopters, Tactical Unmanned Systems and Guided Weapons Division, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton inside one of the MH-60R flight simulators during the commissioning ceremony held at HMAS Albatross.

The first of two MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopter simulators has been commissioned into service.

Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews said in a statement on Friday that the Romeo training system is part of the $3.2 billion project that will deliver 24 naval combat helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy.

“The training system will include two full-motion flight simulators and a wide range of sophisticated maintenance trainers, allowing Navy’s Seahawk Romeo crews to safely train in Australia across a wide range of operational and mission-related training scenarios,” Andrews said.

Training has already started at HMAS Albatross, which has a capacity of about 80 students a year. The second training simulator is due to be delivered next year, meanwhile the Romeo helicopters themselves are on track to achieve initial operational capability (IOC) at sea by August this year.

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Comments (4)

  • Chris


    Given our 2 Oceans policy I hope the 2nd Full Motion Simulator is going somewhere near FBW. That the 2 are network able so that 2 or more can cooperate with the Undersea Simulators at Watson to prosecute targets and the Above Sea Simulators at Watson retain Situational Awareness simultaneously with the ANZAC, Canberra and Hobart classes simulators and or real ships Command Centres.
    We acquired a BRomeo ground maintenance trainer that was delivered by C17A ER with the 1st MH60R Strike Hawk Q4 2014. It is a real operational aircraft but rebuilds were not considered cost effective in comparison to new build so soon abandoned by the USN hence the RAN acquistion. Together with the maintenance trainers FOC should be quickish.
    But in this age of D Level Full Motion Simulators why do the RAN plan 17 airframes in 816 SQN to maintain 8 single aircraft detachments at sea and 7 in 808 SQN for maintence and training. The USN expect 6 out their 8 aircraft SQNs on 3 Arleigh Burke’s or Ticonderogas to be available at any one time. Given the costs involved the taxpayer expects the simulators pay their way and 18 MH60Rs be Operational on ANZAC, Canberra, Hobart and the replacement AORs concurrently. That still allows Check Ride and Deeper Maintence on 6 airframes and the BRomeo for training maintainers before they get hold of the Actual Equipment.
    Separate Op and Tng SQNs slows the incorporation of lessons learnt into training the next crews. A SQN per Ocean makes more sense even if one has more aircraft on premises undergoing Deep Maintenance.

  • John N


    Chris, whilst I understand your concerns and the points you have made, I don’t necessarily agree with them (no offence ok?).

    Should the 2nd simulator be located at FBW, well that’s certainly debatable, should it be at Nowra with the other? Maybe?

    On the point of ‘availability’, if I remember correctly at the time that the Government (of the day), made the announcement of the acquisition of the 24 MH-60R’s, it was stated that it would allow for 8 aircraft to be ‘deployable’ at any one time, but it was also said that the purchase of the 24 airframes would also allow for a ‘surge’ capability to be added if and when required (it was never stated how many extra airframes would make up that ‘surge’ capability, but I suppose that could mean that at least ‘half’ the fleet was available if the need arose).

    So which RAN ships will be operating the MH-60R’s? Obviously that would be the 3 AWD’s and the 8 Anzac Frigates (and their successors, the 8 Future Frigates), as I understand it the 4 (soon to be 3) FFG’s are not going to operate the MH-60R’s in the ‘twilight’ of their services lives.

    So basically we are talking about 11 ships in total (3 AWD’s and 8 FFH), so how many of those ships do you ‘reasonably’ think are going to be available for ‘operations’ at any one time? I wouldn’t mind betting that it would be no more than 8 at any one time which should reasonably equate to the 8 MH-60R’s being available at any one time.

    As for operating the Romeo’s off the AOR’s, why would you want to do that? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to ‘assume that the appropriate aircraft to operate off the 2 AOR’s (or their soon to happen replacements) would be the MRH-90 utility aircraft? If the Government/Navy decided that the AOR’s would deploy anti surface and anti submarine aircraft on a regular basis then those ships would also have to have ‘weapons’ magazines installed to carry and store the appropriate missiles, torpedoes, etc, and I can’t see that happening, the same argument would also apply to Choules too.

    As for the LHD’s Canberra and Adelaide, no doubt over time the RAN will ‘qualify’ the various helicopter types in the inventory, MRH-90’s (Army and Navy), Chinook, Tiger and probably the Romeo’s too, but will they be part of the regular deployment on the LHD’s? Probably not, the Romeo’s will no doubt be deployed on the LHD’s escorts, the AWD’s and Frigates.

    Maybe when the new Defence White Paper is announced and ‘if’ the Government does decide that it will acquire F-35B’s to operate off the LHD’s making them ‘mini-carriers’ (as well as their original role of amphibious ships), then yes in a ‘carrier’ role it would be reasonable to assume that the LHD’s might also operate a flight of Romeo’s too, but unless the Government goes down that path then the question of those ships operating Romeo’s is pointless because again they will be escorted by AWD’s and Frigates equipped with Romeo’s.

    Anyway, just my opinion!


    John N

  • Chris


    John N, I respect your opinion. Historically the RAN has had 12 escorts but because of funding and other difficulties with the Hobart class program I agree we are currently heading for 11. A Corvette is proposed to replace 14 Armidale, 6 Huon and 6 Survey vessels of 2 classes. Only Leeuwin and Melville of the last have a hangar and pad for an A109, M635 twin or Kiowa / Squirrel single engine helicopter. Given the rise of Oil Bulk Ore and Compressed Gas shipping movements in support of onshire mining and offshore energy installations a helicopter on the Corvette is necessary even if only to Medivac injured crew members in the sparse N of Australia. Acquisition of large numbers of submarines by neighbours too our NW and around our shipping destinations mean an embarked ASW asset is becoming essential. Certain SIEV incidents would have benefitted from the Armidales having at least a 10mtonne pad for moving the evacuees to mainland runways like Truscott by civilian offshore energy contracted helicopters. The Pong Su and other incidents in the Southern Ocean proved an embarked helicopter is necessary to get the Boarding Parties aboard a non compliant ship. One was boarded off Cape Town via South African DF Oryx Puma helicopter clones after being pursued from fishing illegally S of Hobart in our EEEZ.
    The prevalence of UAVs for ISR now means a second hangar on the Corvette would be prudent.
    The AORs and LHDs need escorts to survive in contested ALOCs and SLOCs. In our Indian, Pacific and Southern Ocean AOs the distances are long and the air and seaport infrastructure minimal. Each AOR and LHD needs a Goalkeeper escort. The ASMD ANZACs and their replacements are the obvious choice for defence against swarms of incoming threats from air, land, sea and undersea beyond the range of 25mm cannon, chaff, Nulka and Nixies defending the bigger targets but within the defensive shield of the Hobarts outermost layer. For similar reasons the Hobarts need ANZAC Goalkeepers operating clear of 20mm, 25mm and 127mm firing directly at leakers within the innermost layer to the Hobarts. So at least 6 ANZACs are needed to be at sea too support 2 AORs, 2 Hobarts and 2 LHDs.
    I do not favour either AOR design short listed. Cantabria only has 1 shaft and 1 propellor for 2 engines. The other is too civilian with issues we already learnt about with Westralia and Sirius.The AORs need to visit seaports too replenish deployed ships on operations. Their Goalkeeper will escort them to and from. One embarked Seahawk is not enough especially against undersea threats. The Taipan does not have powered folding rotors and tails. The hook is not interopable. The marinisation is questionable at this stage. 4 mtonne can only be slung with reduced fuel.The MH60R hook rating of 2.7mtonne is close to the effective Taipan lift. 3 MH60R per pair of ships makes more sense operationally and logistically for the full range of tasks especially on resupply transits between the seaport and supported ships and back again.
    AORs carry hundreds of tonnes of munitions including missiles, rockets and torpedoes. They have a movement path from the holds to the pad for Vertrep to customers. The 10 sailors supporting each helicopter must be able to arm and fuel each MH60R on the escorts. SOPs on the AORs and escorts support MH60Rs on the AORs also.
    Azipods are an advantage Choules and the LHDs share in undersea warfare. The Corvettes use of impellers confirms a similar advantage. The ANZAC and AOR replacements should be Azipod designs too. The noisy Hobarts will be an impediment to stealth. Even with their towed VDS they are unlikely to prosecute submarines before they can target them or the civilian convoy of ships they are defending. Choules 2 Dutch and 2 Spanish sisterships have weapon holds on deck 5 and 7.5mtonne lifts too the hangar for ASW purposes. The LHDs have a 105mtonne weapon hold on deck 5 and 5mtonne lift too the flight deck. Should an escort be damaged or destroyed its helicopter will redeploy to its mother if it can. Too prevent holes in the ASW defence every fighting ship should have at least one helicopter equipped for the task.
    The MH60S also does Mine Warfare especially in the littoral. The Magic Lantern LASER pod was developed for the Super Seasprite. I have seen photos of an unnamed Mine Warfare LASER pod on the MH60S. It also drags sleds of acoustic and magnetic influence sweeps via its hook. With our LADS and sweep technology similar equipment for our MH60Rs is not of excessive risk.
    Choules has so many issues, the more about which I learn, the more convinced another LHD should be considered. Because the RNZN is also planning to replace its AOR I think a joint program should be explored. The 2 Oceans Policy could justify a 3rd RAN based AOR at FBW. 3 AORs and 3 LHDs would compliment the philosophy of 1 deployed group, 1 preparing to deploy whilst 1 undergoes maintenance post deployment.

  • John N



    My original points that I made in relation to your comments were about the number of MH-60R’s that would be able to be deployed on the ‘appropriate’ ships, and I think that still stands, we are heading to a point where there will be 11 Destroyers/Frigates and short of ‘war’ or a major conflict, I still believe that of those 11 ships in commission, then having 8 MH-60R’s available at ‘all times’ is appropriate for the amount of those 11 ships that would be able to be deployed at any one time.

    Should we have more than 11 Destroyer/Frigates? Yes we should, don’t disagree with that point at all, If the Rudd or Gillard Governments has ordered the 4th AWD, then we would probably be looking at fleet of 12, should we have more than 12? Maybe there should be a few more, but again, the ‘reality’ is that we are not, 11 is it!

    On the issue of the proposed 20 Corvettes (or OCV’s), yes they were proposed in the Rudd 2009 DWP, by the time of the Gillard 2013 DWP, they ‘disappeared’ off in to the ‘never never’, pushed out into the future somewhere, it now remains to be see if that project will be reinstated in the upcoming Abbott 2015 DWP, so we just have to wait and see on that one.

    But even if they are reinstated and built, we are talking of ships of probably no larger than 2,000t and if they do have a landing pad (and possibly a small hangar too), I can’t imagine that ships of that size will be capable of operate MH-60R’s, maybe they could act as ‘lily pads’ to refuel, but other than that, they would be restricted to regular use of a smaller utility helicopter at the most, so they aren’t going to be an answer to getting ‘more’ MH-60R’s to sea.

    And that brings us to AOR’s and other support ships, such as Choules for example, I can’t ever imagine that the Government/RAN is ever going to want those ships, apart from their ‘primary’ roles, to also be ‘combat’ capable ships armed with Anti Surface/Anti Submarine helicopters such as the MH-60R’s, it just doesn’t make sense to me, operating utility aircraft is appropriate for their roles.

    And talking of utility aircraft, yes I would agree that the MRH-90’s are probably not appropriate, in hindsight, the appropriate utility aircraft for the RAN would probably be better if they were MH-60S, much more commonality with the ‘R’s, give the ’90s’ to the Army and acquire a fleet of MH-60S, but in reality I can’t see that happening either.

    That leaves the LHD’s, as I said, the RAN will no doubt qualify all the various helicopter types in ADF service, but again unless there is a push to have the LHD’s operate in a carrier role, I can’t imagine that the MH-60R’s will be ‘regular’ guests aboard the LHD’s, again not to say in some ‘extreme’ situation that they may not operate a flight of those aircraft.

    And talking of extreme situations, major conflict, etc, If the RAN was to get involved in a major conflict, I can’t imagine that the fleet would operate all on its own, I’m sure it would be part of a larger coalition force, most probably the USN, where the ‘appropriate’ ships will all be performing their ‘appropriate’ roles.

    Anyway Chris, I think it’s fair to say we are both passionate about Australia’s defence, but I think that we are going to have to agree to disagree about the ‘appropriate’ use of the MH-60R’s.


    John N

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