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Lockheed Martin hands over RAN’s final Romeo

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 29, 2016
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK(R) helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin handed over the 24th and final MH-60R Seahawk for the Royal Australian Navy on July 27.

Seahawk ‘Romeo’ N48-024 was delivered to the US Navy, which is managing the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) acquisition for the RAN, during an official ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York facility attended by officials from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the RAN and the Australian Embassy, as well as representatives from 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 Commodore Scott Lockey, Director General Navy Aviation Systems.

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“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.”

Delivered on budget and ahead of schedule, N48-024’s formal delivery concludes the first MH-60R international sale. 

The ADF selected the Romeo as its multi-role naval combat helicopter in June 2011 and saw its first MH-60R Seahawk roll off a RAAF C-17 on delivery to HMAS Abatross, Nowra in mid-October 2014.

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“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, the US Navy’s 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.”

N48-024 is anticipated to arrive at Nowra during August.

25% off starts now! Australian Aviation magazine Cyber Monday sale is now live. Have the very best of Australian Aviation’s annual print and digital subscription. This includes every In Focus and Behind the Lens digital magazine, special coverage, exclusive photos and editions you may have miss. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

17 Comments

  • Samual

    says:

    Great … I think we could probably do with another dozen. The 24 we have maybe adequate for the escort fleet but it would be nice to have enough of them to operate off the LHDs as well.

  • Tomcat Terry

    says:

    Agree but that old chestnut regarding F35B’s keeps getting talked about during online discussions.

  • Harry

    says:

    Samuel, I totally agree. with 1 or 2 embarked per ship 24 barely meets the minimum requirement, and thats not taking their need on the LHDs or for training purposes!

    The F-35B doesn’t meet any of our strategic needs. It would be better to add another squadron of F-35As. Because three won’t cut it in this age of increased competition. We need way more air force squadrons!

  • Fabian

    says:

    Screw the f-35 lhd idea. Australia doesn’t really need it. The LHD is an amphibious assault ship

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    24 in 6 years, ahead of schedule and under budget….. wish could be the same with MHR -90 which has gone into cost over runs.
    We should have selected the MH -60S knighthawk to replace the blackhawks. Would have saved us hundreds of millions over the cost of the airframes.

    Tomcat Terry, you’re right about the f35B, the government should look into it again. 3 squadron of 8 aircraft, one for each LHD and one shore based for training and maintenance. (Nice to have)

  • Ron

    says:

    The only other time I’ve heard the phrase “on budget & ahead of schedule” was with the Super Hornets. Maybe we should get some more of them too while we … (cough, cough) … wait for the F-35’s.

    I also like the “most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force” line. That wasn’t a veiled swipe at the Seasprite program was it?

  • Corey Dark

    says:

    I prefer the NFH90 as it fits in with the MRH90 and has commonality with spare parts, servicing, and training. Yes, there has been issues with the NH90 helicopters but building a brand new helicopter from the ground up is very challenging and there is going to be issued which need to be sorted out. There will be NO F-35B for our LHDs unless they Government and Navy go buy 3 Spanish Navy Juan Carlos LHDs fitted with the Australian systems on the Canberra Class because our LHDs are that modified it would be cheaper to build/buy new. In saying that our Future Frigate fleet should be 36 ships (ASW and General Purpose) along with an additional 9+ Hobart AWDs for escorting the LHDs and other large ships such as the LSD and Replenishment oilers.

  • Fabian

    says:

    I totally agree with Ron. We should buy the advanced super hornet, f-18 block 3. And Corey dark, yes, to boost the navy up. We could get that many ships, although Australia doesn’t have the money to buy all that much. For nine frigates = 30 billion dollars. For 36? You do the math, not me. And the defence white paper announced that 195 billion dollars will be spend over the next 10-20 years including the frigates, although an extra 20-30 billion dollars will be added for certain things like the tiger replacement and the special forces helicopter. In my opinion, Australia instead should get the American combatant ships. Much cheaper although with a lot of defence and offence moves under its hull. The Romeo hawk is a good choice.

  • John N

    says:

    Seriously guys, reality check, please??

    24 MH-60R’s not enough? why??

    We currently have 11 major fleet combatants (3 FFG and 8 FFH), this will ‘eventually’ grow to 12 major fleet combatants (3 AWD and 9 Future Frigates and that’s somewhere into the 2030’s at the earliest), can we at least agree on that?

    The stated aim is that of the 24 MH-60R’s, is that eight (8) will be available for deployment at any given time, and that the remainder (16) will be used for training, attrition and a ‘surge’ capability when and if required, again, can we all agree on that?

    Seriously, be it 11 or 12 major fleet units (Destroyers and Frigates), it would be more than reasonable to say that no more than 6-7-8 will be operationally deployed at any one time, so let’s say its eight (8) ships max, then that exactly matches the set requirement does it not?

    The AWD’s only have ‘one’ hangar, eg one aircraft, the Future Frigates are more than likely going to have two hangars (as the FFG’s do), but realistically, and again I say realistically, those ships will only ever deploy with one MH-60R and eventually a future UAV of some type in the second hangar.

    24 MH-60R’s? Seem about right to me!

    And lets not start talking about the LHD’s regularly operating them, they are not A/S Carriers, not today. not tomorrow and probably not ever. Would take away from their primary role, amphibious warfare, not A/S warfare.

    Don’t believe me, maybe have a re-read of the recent Defence White Paper which sets the path for the Navy (and ADF) for many many years to come too.

    Should the Navy (and ADF) have more ‘utility’ lift helicopters, be they MRH-90’s or even MH-60s? Don’t disagree, but that’s a whole different discussion too!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Bill Fitzsimons

    says:

    I read the posts from you guys and even though I agree with most of what you say, I don’t feel that you really realise that there is only so much money to spend. Having run several businesses as well as 19 years in the Police I always thought as a cop that the department didn’t spend enough money on equipment. When I left the force and bought my first business I soon realised that you can’t spend more than you make, and that money has to cover all the bases. If you spend more than you make you end up like some Mediterranean country’s…….stoney broke….. I think that for the size of our population and considering the size of our great country, we are doing very well, in fact I strongly believe that we stand alone in this region and would give any aggressor a very bloody nose.

  • Martin

    says:

    A comment was already made about Commodore Scott Lockey apparently saying “…the most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force.” I guess it was a pep talk to his team as much as anything, which is fair enough..

    Sure, Seasprite project ultimately failed, Tiger is in trouble, MRH-90 has supportability problems (and at one stage engine problems), Seahawk had production delays when assembled in Oz, Blackhawk perhaps also but my memory is fading? But why couldn’t current and past Chinook acquisitions make that same claim? What about AS350B acquisition, surely straightforward and successful? Or Kiowa acquisition, including their local production? What about UH-1H and earlier Huey acquisitions? On what history is that statement being benchmarked? Only the short term and partial history of ADF helicopter acquisitions?

    Oh, and once again, I see the cash splash comments about ‘why not but more’ or why not F35’s for LHD. Thanks John N for the reality check..

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Great to see Australia bringing online another Top Class asset. Yes it would be nice to have More assets but with the 2 x LHD’s. LSD Choules, 2 x Cantabria class AOR’s, 3 x Hobart class AWD’s, 9 Future ASW Frigates, 12 Shortfin Barracuda’s, 12 OCV’s, 6 Mine Hunters we will have a pretty fair navy in any ones language. My view would be to upgrade the Collin’s class subs with Tomahawk VLS and new Gen Lithium Batteries if they are available yet which would give them more discreet patrol time and advance the new Shortfin sub build so as to have at least 9 subs in service at any one time.

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Amendment to my last would be that maybe another 8-10 MH-60R’s could be warranted to equip the OCV’s as they will be Helicopter capable. and forgot the Helicopter Training ship which I believe the OCV’s will be almost identical too for fleet logistic reasons and capabilities that meet the requirements.

  • Fabian

    says:

    True that. Although I truly wish that the navy could get some littoral combat ships from Lockheed Martin. They are ships that are in between OCVs and frigates. They are the right choice in my opinion for the RAN. + the 9 future frigates and the AWDs. The RAN will definitely be superior in fire power ships.

  • Harry

    says:

    John I mostly agree with your reasoning for the most part but I am not so sure on your math. 24 Romeos with only around 8 deployed is not enough. Especially when the fleet is separated by thousands of miles. The MRH-90s are shared between the army and airforce and thus whatever is available will mainly be based on the LHDs. But to think that no Romeos will operate off them during amphibious operations sounds like a missed opportunity. True we will have 12 capital front line ships, with the frigates specifically required to operate two helicopters, and maybe one day in the future long range UAVs. But you are also forgetting the support ships like LSDs and OSVs, and such. Then their is the need for training in addition to these requirements.

    The part of your reasoning which conveniently overlooks is the fact that the RANs ASW capability, like all Western nations over the past 20 years, has been woefully lacking. The Romeos go some way to fixing this problem, along with the Frigates, which is exactly why the frigates are designed to operate 2 helicopters for ASW. The main reason we are investing in them.

    So 9 frigates means a baseline of 3 available, and maybe a surge of 5-6. Thats a max of 12 Romeos. Then their is the AWDs which if 1 LHD is operational at the same time means 1-2 AWDs with accompanying Romeos. Thats 14 deployed on capital front line ships, but not including any that might accompany the LHDs, which can carry many helicopters and really should embark with an indigenous ASW capability. Thats 16 Romeos with 8 left for training. But not in maintenance. That is an over stretched and over worked platform in a period where submarines are proliferating throughout the Asian region in an unprecedented manner.

    Cost might be an issue of course, and its always important to bring it up. And you make a good point. But there is a strategic need for more Romeos. I am, we are, not just saying this because I am, we are, interested in the subject of naval aviation. Its an imperative. If spending more on defence sounds like wishful thinking then we are not facing up to the reality of the pseudo-arms race ongoing in the Asian region. 24 Romeos is a good start, but in the future more will be necessary.

  • John N

    says:

    Hi Harry,

    The figure of 8 out of 24 MH-60R’s being available for deployment at any one time is not something that I’ve dreamed up, it is actually how the Government said the fleet will be operated, again, 8 available for deployment at any one time, the remainder in training, maintenance and attrition and the ability to have a ‘surge’ capability if and when required.

    And again we have, or will eventually have, 12 major fleet units, eg, AWD’s and Frigates, and realistically we will never see more than 8 deployed at any one time, probably less unless there is a war, and that is the only time the Frigates may end up operating two aircraft rather than one and a UAV.

    And yet again, why the need to operate the MH-60R’s from the LHD’s?? Where is the requirement for this? I haven’t seen it, all it will do is reduced the number of transport and troop lift assets, eg MRH-90 and CH-47Fs, yes of course there is always the possibility for the LHD’s to carry ‘spare’ aircraft for the escorts, but again, I can’t see this as being a core operational role for the LHD’s.

    If the LHD’s are required one day to operate in a ‘hot’ environment, they won’t deploy on their own, the will either be escorted by the AWD’s and Frigates (equipped with MH-60R’s) and most likely be part of a much larger coalition taskforce which would have the appropriate mix of assets.

    And I’m certainly not forgetting ‘support’ ships such as the AOR’s and Choules, these ships will be using MRH90s for those various support and lift roles, not ‘combat’ helicopters such as the Romeos.

    If you have a look at the recent DWP, the number of MRH90’s assigned to Navy has been altered, instead of the original 6 out of the ‘pool’ shared with Army, the DWP stated ‘6-8’ for Navy, so obviously the number of utility airframes can be increased when required, If anything (and I said this before too), there is probably more of a requirement for additional utility lift for both Navy and Army, but that is a whole different discussion.

    As for the OPV’s, yes it does appear they will have a flight deck, and depending which of the three designs chosen, probably also have a hangar too, and regardless of the configuration of the OPV’s, do you realistically think they will deploy with a helicopter on a regular basis, a combat helicopter? I can’t see it.

    The OPV’s (not OCV’s) are more than likely to only ever operate UAV’s and more than likely a smaller utility aircraft (if they are ever ordered) some time into the future, they are not frontline combat ships.

    Sure it would always be nice to have ‘more’ of everything, but the defence pie can only be cut so many ways, even with the recent spending increases and plan to move to 2% of GDP in the early 2020’s there is a hell of a lot of equipment to be introduced across the whole ADF.

    Another 8-10-12 MH-60R’s? Sounds great in theory, but what other necessary capability would have to get the chop to pay for that??

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Harry

    says:

    I totally agree with your argument as sound but still see a strategic need for more – if not now then in the future. Although I wouldn’t want it to come at the sacrifice of some other defence program, like a sorely needed extra squadron of F-35s or the submarines for example. I would rather see funding come at the expense of say those big businesses that don’t pay their tax or spending on the baby bonus or medicare rebate for stupidly rich people or fuel tax rebates for mining companies or any other frivolous spending choices are made by governments etc. I haven’t looked at the DWP or any other defence plans recently, but I do agree on the need for greater weight of numbers for naval utility helicopters, as you suggested. I also do see OPVs as embarking ASW naval aviation assets. But the OPVs should be focused partly on ASuW with indigenous anti-ship missiles – but thats a different argument for a different blog.

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Lockheed Martin hands over RAN’s final Romeo

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 29, 2016
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK(R) helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin handed over the 24th and final MH-60R Seahawk for the Royal Australian Navy on July 27.

Seahawk ‘Romeo’ N48-024 was delivered to the US Navy, which is managing the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) acquisition for the RAN, during an official ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York facility attended by officials from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the RAN and the Australian Embassy, as well as representatives from 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 Commodore Scott Lockey, Director General Navy Aviation Systems.

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“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.”

Delivered on budget and ahead of schedule, N48-024’s formal delivery concludes the first MH-60R international sale. 

The ADF selected the Romeo as its multi-role naval combat helicopter in June 2011 and saw its first MH-60R Seahawk roll off a RAAF C-17 on delivery to HMAS Abatross, Nowra in mid-October 2014.

PROMOTED CONTENT

“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, the US Navy’s 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.”

N48-024 is anticipated to arrive at Nowra during August.

25% off starts now! Australian Aviation magazine Cyber Monday sale is now live. Have the very best of Australian Aviation’s annual print and digital subscription. This includes every In Focus and Behind the Lens digital magazine, special coverage, exclusive photos and editions you may have miss. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

17 Comments

  • Samual

    says:

    Great … I think we could probably do with another dozen. The 24 we have maybe adequate for the escort fleet but it would be nice to have enough of them to operate off the LHDs as well.

  • Tomcat Terry

    says:

    Agree but that old chestnut regarding F35B’s keeps getting talked about during online discussions.

  • Harry

    says:

    Samuel, I totally agree. with 1 or 2 embarked per ship 24 barely meets the minimum requirement, and thats not taking their need on the LHDs or for training purposes!

    The F-35B doesn’t meet any of our strategic needs. It would be better to add another squadron of F-35As. Because three won’t cut it in this age of increased competition. We need way more air force squadrons!

  • Fabian

    says:

    Screw the f-35 lhd idea. Australia doesn’t really need it. The LHD is an amphibious assault ship

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    24 in 6 years, ahead of schedule and under budget….. wish could be the same with MHR -90 which has gone into cost over runs.
    We should have selected the MH -60S knighthawk to replace the blackhawks. Would have saved us hundreds of millions over the cost of the airframes.

    Tomcat Terry, you’re right about the f35B, the government should look into it again. 3 squadron of 8 aircraft, one for each LHD and one shore based for training and maintenance. (Nice to have)

  • Ron

    says:

    The only other time I’ve heard the phrase “on budget & ahead of schedule” was with the Super Hornets. Maybe we should get some more of them too while we … (cough, cough) … wait for the F-35’s.

    I also like the “most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force” line. That wasn’t a veiled swipe at the Seasprite program was it?

  • Corey Dark

    says:

    I prefer the NFH90 as it fits in with the MRH90 and has commonality with spare parts, servicing, and training. Yes, there has been issues with the NH90 helicopters but building a brand new helicopter from the ground up is very challenging and there is going to be issued which need to be sorted out. There will be NO F-35B for our LHDs unless they Government and Navy go buy 3 Spanish Navy Juan Carlos LHDs fitted with the Australian systems on the Canberra Class because our LHDs are that modified it would be cheaper to build/buy new. In saying that our Future Frigate fleet should be 36 ships (ASW and General Purpose) along with an additional 9+ Hobart AWDs for escorting the LHDs and other large ships such as the LSD and Replenishment oilers.

  • Fabian

    says:

    I totally agree with Ron. We should buy the advanced super hornet, f-18 block 3. And Corey dark, yes, to boost the navy up. We could get that many ships, although Australia doesn’t have the money to buy all that much. For nine frigates = 30 billion dollars. For 36? You do the math, not me. And the defence white paper announced that 195 billion dollars will be spend over the next 10-20 years including the frigates, although an extra 20-30 billion dollars will be added for certain things like the tiger replacement and the special forces helicopter. In my opinion, Australia instead should get the American combatant ships. Much cheaper although with a lot of defence and offence moves under its hull. The Romeo hawk is a good choice.

  • John N

    says:

    Seriously guys, reality check, please??

    24 MH-60R’s not enough? why??

    We currently have 11 major fleet combatants (3 FFG and 8 FFH), this will ‘eventually’ grow to 12 major fleet combatants (3 AWD and 9 Future Frigates and that’s somewhere into the 2030’s at the earliest), can we at least agree on that?

    The stated aim is that of the 24 MH-60R’s, is that eight (8) will be available for deployment at any given time, and that the remainder (16) will be used for training, attrition and a ‘surge’ capability when and if required, again, can we all agree on that?

    Seriously, be it 11 or 12 major fleet units (Destroyers and Frigates), it would be more than reasonable to say that no more than 6-7-8 will be operationally deployed at any one time, so let’s say its eight (8) ships max, then that exactly matches the set requirement does it not?

    The AWD’s only have ‘one’ hangar, eg one aircraft, the Future Frigates are more than likely going to have two hangars (as the FFG’s do), but realistically, and again I say realistically, those ships will only ever deploy with one MH-60R and eventually a future UAV of some type in the second hangar.

    24 MH-60R’s? Seem about right to me!

    And lets not start talking about the LHD’s regularly operating them, they are not A/S Carriers, not today. not tomorrow and probably not ever. Would take away from their primary role, amphibious warfare, not A/S warfare.

    Don’t believe me, maybe have a re-read of the recent Defence White Paper which sets the path for the Navy (and ADF) for many many years to come too.

    Should the Navy (and ADF) have more ‘utility’ lift helicopters, be they MRH-90’s or even MH-60s? Don’t disagree, but that’s a whole different discussion too!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Bill Fitzsimons

    says:

    I read the posts from you guys and even though I agree with most of what you say, I don’t feel that you really realise that there is only so much money to spend. Having run several businesses as well as 19 years in the Police I always thought as a cop that the department didn’t spend enough money on equipment. When I left the force and bought my first business I soon realised that you can’t spend more than you make, and that money has to cover all the bases. If you spend more than you make you end up like some Mediterranean country’s…….stoney broke….. I think that for the size of our population and considering the size of our great country, we are doing very well, in fact I strongly believe that we stand alone in this region and would give any aggressor a very bloody nose.

  • Martin

    says:

    A comment was already made about Commodore Scott Lockey apparently saying “…the most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force.” I guess it was a pep talk to his team as much as anything, which is fair enough..

    Sure, Seasprite project ultimately failed, Tiger is in trouble, MRH-90 has supportability problems (and at one stage engine problems), Seahawk had production delays when assembled in Oz, Blackhawk perhaps also but my memory is fading? But why couldn’t current and past Chinook acquisitions make that same claim? What about AS350B acquisition, surely straightforward and successful? Or Kiowa acquisition, including their local production? What about UH-1H and earlier Huey acquisitions? On what history is that statement being benchmarked? Only the short term and partial history of ADF helicopter acquisitions?

    Oh, and once again, I see the cash splash comments about ‘why not but more’ or why not F35’s for LHD. Thanks John N for the reality check..

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Great to see Australia bringing online another Top Class asset. Yes it would be nice to have More assets but with the 2 x LHD’s. LSD Choules, 2 x Cantabria class AOR’s, 3 x Hobart class AWD’s, 9 Future ASW Frigates, 12 Shortfin Barracuda’s, 12 OCV’s, 6 Mine Hunters we will have a pretty fair navy in any ones language. My view would be to upgrade the Collin’s class subs with Tomahawk VLS and new Gen Lithium Batteries if they are available yet which would give them more discreet patrol time and advance the new Shortfin sub build so as to have at least 9 subs in service at any one time.

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Amendment to my last would be that maybe another 8-10 MH-60R’s could be warranted to equip the OCV’s as they will be Helicopter capable. and forgot the Helicopter Training ship which I believe the OCV’s will be almost identical too for fleet logistic reasons and capabilities that meet the requirements.

  • Fabian

    says:

    True that. Although I truly wish that the navy could get some littoral combat ships from Lockheed Martin. They are ships that are in between OCVs and frigates. They are the right choice in my opinion for the RAN. + the 9 future frigates and the AWDs. The RAN will definitely be superior in fire power ships.

  • Harry

    says:

    John I mostly agree with your reasoning for the most part but I am not so sure on your math. 24 Romeos with only around 8 deployed is not enough. Especially when the fleet is separated by thousands of miles. The MRH-90s are shared between the army and airforce and thus whatever is available will mainly be based on the LHDs. But to think that no Romeos will operate off them during amphibious operations sounds like a missed opportunity. True we will have 12 capital front line ships, with the frigates specifically required to operate two helicopters, and maybe one day in the future long range UAVs. But you are also forgetting the support ships like LSDs and OSVs, and such. Then their is the need for training in addition to these requirements.

    The part of your reasoning which conveniently overlooks is the fact that the RANs ASW capability, like all Western nations over the past 20 years, has been woefully lacking. The Romeos go some way to fixing this problem, along with the Frigates, which is exactly why the frigates are designed to operate 2 helicopters for ASW. The main reason we are investing in them.

    So 9 frigates means a baseline of 3 available, and maybe a surge of 5-6. Thats a max of 12 Romeos. Then their is the AWDs which if 1 LHD is operational at the same time means 1-2 AWDs with accompanying Romeos. Thats 14 deployed on capital front line ships, but not including any that might accompany the LHDs, which can carry many helicopters and really should embark with an indigenous ASW capability. Thats 16 Romeos with 8 left for training. But not in maintenance. That is an over stretched and over worked platform in a period where submarines are proliferating throughout the Asian region in an unprecedented manner.

    Cost might be an issue of course, and its always important to bring it up. And you make a good point. But there is a strategic need for more Romeos. I am, we are, not just saying this because I am, we are, interested in the subject of naval aviation. Its an imperative. If spending more on defence sounds like wishful thinking then we are not facing up to the reality of the pseudo-arms race ongoing in the Asian region. 24 Romeos is a good start, but in the future more will be necessary.

  • John N

    says:

    Hi Harry,

    The figure of 8 out of 24 MH-60R’s being available for deployment at any one time is not something that I’ve dreamed up, it is actually how the Government said the fleet will be operated, again, 8 available for deployment at any one time, the remainder in training, maintenance and attrition and the ability to have a ‘surge’ capability if and when required.

    And again we have, or will eventually have, 12 major fleet units, eg, AWD’s and Frigates, and realistically we will never see more than 8 deployed at any one time, probably less unless there is a war, and that is the only time the Frigates may end up operating two aircraft rather than one and a UAV.

    And yet again, why the need to operate the MH-60R’s from the LHD’s?? Where is the requirement for this? I haven’t seen it, all it will do is reduced the number of transport and troop lift assets, eg MRH-90 and CH-47Fs, yes of course there is always the possibility for the LHD’s to carry ‘spare’ aircraft for the escorts, but again, I can’t see this as being a core operational role for the LHD’s.

    If the LHD’s are required one day to operate in a ‘hot’ environment, they won’t deploy on their own, the will either be escorted by the AWD’s and Frigates (equipped with MH-60R’s) and most likely be part of a much larger coalition taskforce which would have the appropriate mix of assets.

    And I’m certainly not forgetting ‘support’ ships such as the AOR’s and Choules, these ships will be using MRH90s for those various support and lift roles, not ‘combat’ helicopters such as the Romeos.

    If you have a look at the recent DWP, the number of MRH90’s assigned to Navy has been altered, instead of the original 6 out of the ‘pool’ shared with Army, the DWP stated ‘6-8’ for Navy, so obviously the number of utility airframes can be increased when required, If anything (and I said this before too), there is probably more of a requirement for additional utility lift for both Navy and Army, but that is a whole different discussion.

    As for the OPV’s, yes it does appear they will have a flight deck, and depending which of the three designs chosen, probably also have a hangar too, and regardless of the configuration of the OPV’s, do you realistically think they will deploy with a helicopter on a regular basis, a combat helicopter? I can’t see it.

    The OPV’s (not OCV’s) are more than likely to only ever operate UAV’s and more than likely a smaller utility aircraft (if they are ever ordered) some time into the future, they are not frontline combat ships.

    Sure it would always be nice to have ‘more’ of everything, but the defence pie can only be cut so many ways, even with the recent spending increases and plan to move to 2% of GDP in the early 2020’s there is a hell of a lot of equipment to be introduced across the whole ADF.

    Another 8-10-12 MH-60R’s? Sounds great in theory, but what other necessary capability would have to get the chop to pay for that??

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Harry

    says:

    I totally agree with your argument as sound but still see a strategic need for more – if not now then in the future. Although I wouldn’t want it to come at the sacrifice of some other defence program, like a sorely needed extra squadron of F-35s or the submarines for example. I would rather see funding come at the expense of say those big businesses that don’t pay their tax or spending on the baby bonus or medicare rebate for stupidly rich people or fuel tax rebates for mining companies or any other frivolous spending choices are made by governments etc. I haven’t looked at the DWP or any other defence plans recently, but I do agree on the need for greater weight of numbers for naval utility helicopters, as you suggested. I also do see OPVs as embarking ASW naval aviation assets. But the OPVs should be focused partly on ASuW with indigenous anti-ship missiles – but thats a different argument for a different blog.

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Lockheed Martin hands over RAN’s final Romeo

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 29, 2016
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK(R) helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)
The Royal Australian Navy accepts the 24th, and final, MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter from Lockheed Martin in Owego, N.Y (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin handed over the 24th and final MH-60R Seahawk for the Royal Australian Navy on July 27.

Seahawk ‘Romeo’ N48-024 was delivered to the US Navy, which is managing the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) acquisition for the RAN, during an official ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York facility attended by officials from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the RAN and the Australian Embassy, as well as representatives from 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 Commodore Scott Lockey, Director General Navy Aviation Systems.

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“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.”

Delivered on budget and ahead of schedule, N48-024’s formal delivery concludes the first MH-60R international sale. 

The ADF selected the Romeo as its multi-role naval combat helicopter in June 2011 and saw its first MH-60R Seahawk roll off a RAAF C-17 on delivery to HMAS Abatross, Nowra in mid-October 2014.

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“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, the US Navy’s 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.”

N48-024 is anticipated to arrive at Nowra during August.

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17 Comments

  • Samual

    says:

    Great … I think we could probably do with another dozen. The 24 we have maybe adequate for the escort fleet but it would be nice to have enough of them to operate off the LHDs as well.

  • Tomcat Terry

    says:

    Agree but that old chestnut regarding F35B’s keeps getting talked about during online discussions.

  • Harry

    says:

    Samuel, I totally agree. with 1 or 2 embarked per ship 24 barely meets the minimum requirement, and thats not taking their need on the LHDs or for training purposes!

    The F-35B doesn’t meet any of our strategic needs. It would be better to add another squadron of F-35As. Because three won’t cut it in this age of increased competition. We need way more air force squadrons!

  • Fabian

    says:

    Screw the f-35 lhd idea. Australia doesn’t really need it. The LHD is an amphibious assault ship

  • Derrick Aguero

    says:

    24 in 6 years, ahead of schedule and under budget….. wish could be the same with MHR -90 which has gone into cost over runs.
    We should have selected the MH -60S knighthawk to replace the blackhawks. Would have saved us hundreds of millions over the cost of the airframes.

    Tomcat Terry, you’re right about the f35B, the government should look into it again. 3 squadron of 8 aircraft, one for each LHD and one shore based for training and maintenance. (Nice to have)

  • Ron

    says:

    The only other time I’ve heard the phrase “on budget & ahead of schedule” was with the Super Hornets. Maybe we should get some more of them too while we … (cough, cough) … wait for the F-35’s.

    I also like the “most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force” line. That wasn’t a veiled swipe at the Seasprite program was it?

  • Corey Dark

    says:

    I prefer the NFH90 as it fits in with the MRH90 and has commonality with spare parts, servicing, and training. Yes, there has been issues with the NH90 helicopters but building a brand new helicopter from the ground up is very challenging and there is going to be issued which need to be sorted out. There will be NO F-35B for our LHDs unless they Government and Navy go buy 3 Spanish Navy Juan Carlos LHDs fitted with the Australian systems on the Canberra Class because our LHDs are that modified it would be cheaper to build/buy new. In saying that our Future Frigate fleet should be 36 ships (ASW and General Purpose) along with an additional 9+ Hobart AWDs for escorting the LHDs and other large ships such as the LSD and Replenishment oilers.

  • Fabian

    says:

    I totally agree with Ron. We should buy the advanced super hornet, f-18 block 3. And Corey dark, yes, to boost the navy up. We could get that many ships, although Australia doesn’t have the money to buy all that much. For nine frigates = 30 billion dollars. For 36? You do the math, not me. And the defence white paper announced that 195 billion dollars will be spend over the next 10-20 years including the frigates, although an extra 20-30 billion dollars will be added for certain things like the tiger replacement and the special forces helicopter. In my opinion, Australia instead should get the American combatant ships. Much cheaper although with a lot of defence and offence moves under its hull. The Romeo hawk is a good choice.

  • John N

    says:

    Seriously guys, reality check, please??

    24 MH-60R’s not enough? why??

    We currently have 11 major fleet combatants (3 FFG and 8 FFH), this will ‘eventually’ grow to 12 major fleet combatants (3 AWD and 9 Future Frigates and that’s somewhere into the 2030’s at the earliest), can we at least agree on that?

    The stated aim is that of the 24 MH-60R’s, is that eight (8) will be available for deployment at any given time, and that the remainder (16) will be used for training, attrition and a ‘surge’ capability when and if required, again, can we all agree on that?

    Seriously, be it 11 or 12 major fleet units (Destroyers and Frigates), it would be more than reasonable to say that no more than 6-7-8 will be operationally deployed at any one time, so let’s say its eight (8) ships max, then that exactly matches the set requirement does it not?

    The AWD’s only have ‘one’ hangar, eg one aircraft, the Future Frigates are more than likely going to have two hangars (as the FFG’s do), but realistically, and again I say realistically, those ships will only ever deploy with one MH-60R and eventually a future UAV of some type in the second hangar.

    24 MH-60R’s? Seem about right to me!

    And lets not start talking about the LHD’s regularly operating them, they are not A/S Carriers, not today. not tomorrow and probably not ever. Would take away from their primary role, amphibious warfare, not A/S warfare.

    Don’t believe me, maybe have a re-read of the recent Defence White Paper which sets the path for the Navy (and ADF) for many many years to come too.

    Should the Navy (and ADF) have more ‘utility’ lift helicopters, be they MRH-90’s or even MH-60s? Don’t disagree, but that’s a whole different discussion too!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Bill Fitzsimons

    says:

    I read the posts from you guys and even though I agree with most of what you say, I don’t feel that you really realise that there is only so much money to spend. Having run several businesses as well as 19 years in the Police I always thought as a cop that the department didn’t spend enough money on equipment. When I left the force and bought my first business I soon realised that you can’t spend more than you make, and that money has to cover all the bases. If you spend more than you make you end up like some Mediterranean country’s…….stoney broke….. I think that for the size of our population and considering the size of our great country, we are doing very well, in fact I strongly believe that we stand alone in this region and would give any aggressor a very bloody nose.

  • Martin

    says:

    A comment was already made about Commodore Scott Lockey apparently saying “…the most successful helicopter acquisition program undertaken by the Australian Defence Force.” I guess it was a pep talk to his team as much as anything, which is fair enough..

    Sure, Seasprite project ultimately failed, Tiger is in trouble, MRH-90 has supportability problems (and at one stage engine problems), Seahawk had production delays when assembled in Oz, Blackhawk perhaps also but my memory is fading? But why couldn’t current and past Chinook acquisitions make that same claim? What about AS350B acquisition, surely straightforward and successful? Or Kiowa acquisition, including their local production? What about UH-1H and earlier Huey acquisitions? On what history is that statement being benchmarked? Only the short term and partial history of ADF helicopter acquisitions?

    Oh, and once again, I see the cash splash comments about ‘why not but more’ or why not F35’s for LHD. Thanks John N for the reality check..

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Great to see Australia bringing online another Top Class asset. Yes it would be nice to have More assets but with the 2 x LHD’s. LSD Choules, 2 x Cantabria class AOR’s, 3 x Hobart class AWD’s, 9 Future ASW Frigates, 12 Shortfin Barracuda’s, 12 OCV’s, 6 Mine Hunters we will have a pretty fair navy in any ones language. My view would be to upgrade the Collin’s class subs with Tomahawk VLS and new Gen Lithium Batteries if they are available yet which would give them more discreet patrol time and advance the new Shortfin sub build so as to have at least 9 subs in service at any one time.

  • Myles Dobinson

    says:

    Amendment to my last would be that maybe another 8-10 MH-60R’s could be warranted to equip the OCV’s as they will be Helicopter capable. and forgot the Helicopter Training ship which I believe the OCV’s will be almost identical too for fleet logistic reasons and capabilities that meet the requirements.

  • Fabian

    says:

    True that. Although I truly wish that the navy could get some littoral combat ships from Lockheed Martin. They are ships that are in between OCVs and frigates. They are the right choice in my opinion for the RAN. + the 9 future frigates and the AWDs. The RAN will definitely be superior in fire power ships.

  • Harry

    says:

    John I mostly agree with your reasoning for the most part but I am not so sure on your math. 24 Romeos with only around 8 deployed is not enough. Especially when the fleet is separated by thousands of miles. The MRH-90s are shared between the army and airforce and thus whatever is available will mainly be based on the LHDs. But to think that no Romeos will operate off them during amphibious operations sounds like a missed opportunity. True we will have 12 capital front line ships, with the frigates specifically required to operate two helicopters, and maybe one day in the future long range UAVs. But you are also forgetting the support ships like LSDs and OSVs, and such. Then their is the need for training in addition to these requirements.

    The part of your reasoning which conveniently overlooks is the fact that the RANs ASW capability, like all Western nations over the past 20 years, has been woefully lacking. The Romeos go some way to fixing this problem, along with the Frigates, which is exactly why the frigates are designed to operate 2 helicopters for ASW. The main reason we are investing in them.

    So 9 frigates means a baseline of 3 available, and maybe a surge of 5-6. Thats a max of 12 Romeos. Then their is the AWDs which if 1 LHD is operational at the same time means 1-2 AWDs with accompanying Romeos. Thats 14 deployed on capital front line ships, but not including any that might accompany the LHDs, which can carry many helicopters and really should embark with an indigenous ASW capability. Thats 16 Romeos with 8 left for training. But not in maintenance. That is an over stretched and over worked platform in a period where submarines are proliferating throughout the Asian region in an unprecedented manner.

    Cost might be an issue of course, and its always important to bring it up. And you make a good point. But there is a strategic need for more Romeos. I am, we are, not just saying this because I am, we are, interested in the subject of naval aviation. Its an imperative. If spending more on defence sounds like wishful thinking then we are not facing up to the reality of the pseudo-arms race ongoing in the Asian region. 24 Romeos is a good start, but in the future more will be necessary.

  • John N

    says:

    Hi Harry,

    The figure of 8 out of 24 MH-60R’s being available for deployment at any one time is not something that I’ve dreamed up, it is actually how the Government said the fleet will be operated, again, 8 available for deployment at any one time, the remainder in training, maintenance and attrition and the ability to have a ‘surge’ capability if and when required.

    And again we have, or will eventually have, 12 major fleet units, eg, AWD’s and Frigates, and realistically we will never see more than 8 deployed at any one time, probably less unless there is a war, and that is the only time the Frigates may end up operating two aircraft rather than one and a UAV.

    And yet again, why the need to operate the MH-60R’s from the LHD’s?? Where is the requirement for this? I haven’t seen it, all it will do is reduced the number of transport and troop lift assets, eg MRH-90 and CH-47Fs, yes of course there is always the possibility for the LHD’s to carry ‘spare’ aircraft for the escorts, but again, I can’t see this as being a core operational role for the LHD’s.

    If the LHD’s are required one day to operate in a ‘hot’ environment, they won’t deploy on their own, the will either be escorted by the AWD’s and Frigates (equipped with MH-60R’s) and most likely be part of a much larger coalition taskforce which would have the appropriate mix of assets.

    And I’m certainly not forgetting ‘support’ ships such as the AOR’s and Choules, these ships will be using MRH90s for those various support and lift roles, not ‘combat’ helicopters such as the Romeos.

    If you have a look at the recent DWP, the number of MRH90’s assigned to Navy has been altered, instead of the original 6 out of the ‘pool’ shared with Army, the DWP stated ‘6-8’ for Navy, so obviously the number of utility airframes can be increased when required, If anything (and I said this before too), there is probably more of a requirement for additional utility lift for both Navy and Army, but that is a whole different discussion.

    As for the OPV’s, yes it does appear they will have a flight deck, and depending which of the three designs chosen, probably also have a hangar too, and regardless of the configuration of the OPV’s, do you realistically think they will deploy with a helicopter on a regular basis, a combat helicopter? I can’t see it.

    The OPV’s (not OCV’s) are more than likely to only ever operate UAV’s and more than likely a smaller utility aircraft (if they are ever ordered) some time into the future, they are not frontline combat ships.

    Sure it would always be nice to have ‘more’ of everything, but the defence pie can only be cut so many ways, even with the recent spending increases and plan to move to 2% of GDP in the early 2020’s there is a hell of a lot of equipment to be introduced across the whole ADF.

    Another 8-10-12 MH-60R’s? Sounds great in theory, but what other necessary capability would have to get the chop to pay for that??

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Harry

    says:

    I totally agree with your argument as sound but still see a strategic need for more – if not now then in the future. Although I wouldn’t want it to come at the sacrifice of some other defence program, like a sorely needed extra squadron of F-35s or the submarines for example. I would rather see funding come at the expense of say those big businesses that don’t pay their tax or spending on the baby bonus or medicare rebate for stupidly rich people or fuel tax rebates for mining companies or any other frivolous spending choices are made by governments etc. I haven’t looked at the DWP or any other defence plans recently, but I do agree on the need for greater weight of numbers for naval utility helicopters, as you suggested. I also do see OPVs as embarking ASW naval aviation assets. But the OPVs should be focused partly on ASuW with indigenous anti-ship missiles – but thats a different argument for a different blog.

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