Sikorsky Australia has said it has continued a high sustainment rate of the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of MH-60R aircraft this year, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting the growth of Australia’s sovereign aviation capabilities.
The company was also able to boost its workforce this year despite major COVID-19 impediments, according to a press statement released on Wednesday.
In May, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary bagged a $10 million contract to deliver sustainment support services for the RAN’s fleet of 24 MH-60R Seahawk maritime helicopters.
“The deepening of the through-life-sustainment partnership with the RAN demonstrates Australia’s sustainable sovereign industrial capability in action,” said general manager Malcolm Wright.
“Our Sikorsky Australia aviation technicians are working hand-in-glove with the RAN to further integrate aviation skills and expertise across the team.”
Wright told Australian Aviation that while there remains a significant need for international partnerships, the contract reinforces the importance of local companies supporting an Australian fleet of aircraft.
“It’s the ability to work and support from Australia as much as possible, and not have to keep reaching back to the United States more than necessary,” he said.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the government, but I know that Australian industry commitment is something that we get a lot of support from the government.”
The contract includes intermediate level component maintenance and significant upgrades to the fleet.
The company continued to perform maintenance on the aircraft to ensure operational readiness of the fleet, amid introducing safety protocols such as split shifts with employees to mitigate impacts from the pandemic.
Shoalhaven-based Sikorsky said over 50 technicians have completed comprehensive training this year, and its workforce has increased by 14 roles, now reaching to 195 staff in its workforce.
Wright said the company is committed to enhancing local talent in the Shoalhaven region to develop advanced skills in aircraft maintenance.
The sustainment effort is “deepening and expanding” its partnership between Sikorsky Australia and the RAN, the company says.
Until December 2024, Sikorsky will embed ten aviation technicians within the RAN’s MH-60R Seahawk 725 and 816 Squadrons at HMAS Albatross, the primary naval air station for the RAN.
“What we see with the Australian sustainment network, is a true representation of [the] Australian industry sustaining Australian Seahawk aircraft in support of the Australian Navy,” Blair Drinkwater, business developer for rotary operations told Australian Aviation.
“When the team’s built up to now be at 195 and continuing to grow, plus the expanded sustainment network that supports Sikorsky Australia, [it] really is a great reflection on what aerospace MRO sovereign sustainment looks like,” Blair added.
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