Australia has decided to boost its sub hunter helicopter fleet to 36, buying an additional 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy.
The finalization of the Foreign Military Sales contract, likely to be worth around $985 million USD, was announced today by Lockheed Martin. It’s a firm fixed price deal for the aircraft and a wide array of weapons, spare engines and a range of other equipment, according to the congressional notification of the sale published in October last year.
In addition to the air frames, sale includes 30 T-700-GE-401C engines, 12 APS-153(V) Multi-Mode Radars and 12 AN/AAS-44C(V) Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems.
“The ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter instills confidence in navies worldwide for its high operational availability in the harsh maritime environment, and for the fully integrated mission systems and sensors that quickly generate a complete picture of the surface and subsurface domains,” Hamid Salim, vice president of Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems, said in a statement. “Ongoing and planned upgrades to the MH-60R through partnership with the U.S. Navy, RAN, other international partners and industry will ensure the aircraft’s reliability and mission effectiveness against emerging threats for decades to come.”
This is part of what Australia awkwardly calls SEA 9100 Phase 1 (Improved Embarked Logistics Support Helicopter Capability). “The versatility of the MH-60R to conduct a wide range of missions combined with the world-class support provided by our partners, was a significant factor in the decision by the RAN to make an additional investment in MH-60R under the SEA 9100 Phase 1 program,” said Rear Adm. Peter Quinn, head of Navy capability.
The Romeos will be delivered between mid-2025 and mid-2026.
The Seahawks are replacing Australia’s fleet of 47 locally produced Taipan helicopters, which the last government decided to scrap a decade earlier than planned.
“Taipan has been a project of concern for the last decade. It’s had nine instances where it’s been unsuitable to fly,” then-Defense Minister Peter Dutton said when he announced decision in December. Australia also decided to buy Lockheed Martin’s venerable Black Hawk helicopter to replace the Taipans, and last month the State Department approved a potential sale of 40 of those birds and associated parts and equipment.