The Royal Australian Navy is conducting trials of its MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopters to test their operating limits off the coast of Queensland.
HMAS Adelaide has left its home port of Sydney to conduct the assessments, which include flying in a range of wind speeds and times of day.
Lieutenant Commander Chris Broadbent said, “While MH-60R aircraft have been used on HMA Ships Adelaide and Canberra for some time, new tests are required to determine what new safe operating limits they can achieve when working together.”
The trials are also being carried out to establish the true extent of how the helicopters operate on the Navy’s various vessels and include aviation facilities assessments, equipment calibration and evaluation of the interface between a particular helicopter type and class of ship.
The MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopters, based at 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, are the Navy’s new submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, replacing the S-70B-2 Seahawk in 2017.
The Australian government bought 24 MH-60Rs at a cost of more than $3 billion. The aircraft have a top speed of 180 knots, a range of 245 nautical miles and feature two General Electric T700-GE-401 engines.
Adelaide’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jonathan Ley, said, “The results will provide a new standard of operational capability, informing how navy can employ the MH-60R and LHD together in the future to increase both lethality in combat, and responsiveness during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief tasks.”
All crew on Adelaide were screened for COVID-19 symptoms before departure, while all fleet units deploy with a medical officer or team on board.
“Adelaide is currently the Navy’s high readiness vessel and may be tasked by the Australian government to respond to emergencies across the region, including support to civil authorities in Australia, or overseas, in their efforts against COVID-19,” CAPT Ley said.
“It is imperative that we maintain that high readiness capability, and provide reassurance that ADF can respond immediately even in times of crisis.”