The US Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to deliver additional MH-60R Seahawk helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
The agreement includes 12 Seahawks, adding a third “Romeo” squadron to Australia’s Fleet Air Arm.
The contract follows a foreign military sale approved by the US State Department in October 2021.
Delivery of the order is expected to be completed in 2025 or 2026.
“The ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter instills confidence in navies worldwide for its high operational availability in the harsh maritime environment,” Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems Vice President Hamid Salim said.
“We thank the RAN for showing confidence in the broad mission flexibility of this proven multi-role helicopter.”
“Ongoing and planned upgrades to the MH-60R through partnership with the US Navy, RAN, other international partners and industry will ensure the aircraft’s reliability and mission effectiveness against emerging threats for decades to come.”
‘Unparalleled Maritime Aviation Platform’
The future MH-60R fleet is part of Australia’s SEA 9100 Phase 1 project that integrates “improved embarked logistics support helicopter capability.”
“Built upon a decade of partnership with the United States Navy and Lockheed Martin, the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ multi-mission helicopter provides the Royal Australian Navy with an unparalleled maritime aviation platform,” RAN Head Capability Rear Adm. Peter Quinn said.
The Royal Australian Navy was the first international force to adopt MH-60R choppers. The command procured 24 aircraft from 2013 to 2016.
Fleet Air Arm’s 725 and 816 squadrons based in Nowra, New South Wales, have accumulated 30,000 flight hours in operations with frigates, destroyers, and supply ships using MH-60Rs.
Australia’s Seahawk Fleet Expansion
Earlier this year, the US Naval Air Systems Command signed a $503.7 million contract with Lockheed Martin to provide a separate batch of MH-60Rs to Australia.
Canberra ordered GAU-61 cannons, M299 Longbow rockets, missile launchers, related spares, mission equipment, related training, and support in addition to the choppers.
Initial estimates put the price of the deal at $985 million, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“This proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay,” the agency said.