Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR May 2017 Contents 44 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter MAY 2017
delivering to Australia the full fleet of SEAHAWKS on
time and on budget.”
The ‘Romeo’ Seahawk occupies the same physical
footprint as the S-70-B -2 which it is replacing,
therefore introduction into service upon RAN ships
has been accomplished relatively easily.
MH-60R SEAHAWK CAPABILITIES
The ‘Romeo’ maritime combat helicopter can reach
a speed of 180 knots (333 km/hr) in transit to its
area of operations. With a range of 245 nautical
miles, its endurance is found from a combination
of weapons load and transit speed, meaning that
on station time will govern how far away from its
mother ship the Romeo can perform its mission.
The Romeo’s ferry range can be extended by
adding two external fuel tanks.
Reports seen by APDR note that the US Navy
uses 2.7 hours endurance when fitted out for
undersea warfare (10.2 tonnes gross weight)
and 3.3 hours for surface warfare (9.7 tonnes).
Assuming an average transit speed of 140 knots,
this means a radius of 70 nautical miles from
the ship for undersea warfare with 100 minutes
on station using its deep dipping sonar and/or
dropping hydrophones, then engaging the target
Sikorsky is now wholly owned by Lockheed
Martin that developed and integrated the advanced
mission sensor suite into MH-60R helicopters
built by Sikorsky. According to Lockheed Martin
this suite includes multi-mode radar (including
Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar); Airborne Low
Frequency Dipping Sonar (ALFS) subsystem and
sonobuoys; Electronic Support Measures with
an integrated helo threat warning capability; a
Forward Looking Infrared Electro-Optical device;
integrated self defence; and a weapons suite
including Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes and
AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface anti-ship missiles
plus 0.50 calibre machine guns. A less publicised
role is as a VHF/UHF/link communication relay.
A Lockheed Martin division also produced the
Common CockpitTM avionics, fielded on both the
MH-60R and MH-60S. The 400th Common Cockpit
was installed on the first Royal Australian Navy
MH-60R. The digital, all-glass cockpit features
four large, flat-panel, multi-function, night-vision-
compatible, color displays. The suite processes and
manages communications and sensor data streaming
into MH-60 multi-mission helicopters, presenting
to the crew of three, actionable information that
significantly reduces workload while increasing
The helicopters have two data links: Link 16 and
a highly directional Common Data Link (CDL) that
is also known as in US Navy parlance as Hawklink.
While the ships that will carry the Romeos – Air
Warfare Destroyers, ANZAC frigates and possibly
LHDs – have Link 16, they do not have a receiver
for Hawklink. This seems to be a major shortfall
as in their current configurations the ships cannot
receive all of the data that the Romeos are capable of
sending, which seems to be a considerable waste of
a very powerful asset.
All ADF pilots will now do their initial helicopter flight
training at Nowra. Speaking there at the arrival of
the 24th Romeo, Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Barrett
said “Since deciding on the helicopter . . . . . we have
already gained a lot through this project, including
initial operating capability last August. We have three
flights at sea at the moment. We have great training
from 725 Squadron and we have 816 Squadron
operating these aircraft at sea.”
On 17 March 2017 the Minister for Defence,
Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Member for
Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis MP, inspected progress in
the development of a $157 million Helicopter Aircrew
Training System at HMAS Albatross.
Minister Payne said the project will provide state of
the art training facilities for Navy and Army aviators.
“ The new Helicopter Aircrew Training System
will provide streamlined initial pilot training in a
highly realistic environment for our Navy and Army
personnel,” Minister Payne said.
She continued “As part of the training system, 15
Airbus EC135 helicopters will be based at Nowra
replacing the Navy’s Squirrel and Army’s Kiowa
helicopters which are more than 30 and 40
years old respectively. The project includes a
new training centre with three flight simulators,
refurbished hangars and workshops and new
Once fully operational in 2018, the facility will
support the training of up to 116 pilots, aviation
warfare officers, aircrew, sensor operators and
instructors per year.
The MH-60R “Romeo” SEAHAWK helicopter
program has run on time and on budget with
all 24 MH-60 Romeos now delivered to the
Royal Australian Navy - a feat which saw the
program win Australia’s Capability Acquisition
and Sustainment Group “Project of the Year”
award in 2015.
Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky support the
RAN fleet through the Maritime Helicopter
Support Company (MHSCo), which provides
Through Life Support logistics services to
sustain peak flight readiness for the RAN
SEAHAWK helicopters during the fleet’s
estimated 30-year lifespan. MHSCo have
access to the US-originated Seahawk Helicopter
Performance Based Logistics System which
manages 1700+ components.
“ We at Lockheed Martin are committed to
securing and investing in the future of Australia. This
facility in Nowra will house and maintain the new fleet,
contributing to the local community and creating
local job opportunities,” said then Australia and New
Zealand CEO Raydon Gates.
The US Navy anticipates the MH-60R airframe to have
an estimated life of 10,000 flight hours or approximately
22 years. The S-70B-2 has served the RAN for well
over 25 years with no significant capability upgrade
other than the installation of self-defence systems, FLIR
and crash recording equipment. The Romeo can be
expected to deliver a similar life but with a plan to stay
in step with the USN upgrade program, the helicopter
is expected to undergo continual improvements in the
airframe and its systems, through a proposed Seahawk
Capability Assurance Program (SCAP).
HMAS Anzac MH-60R Deck Landing Qualifications.
Credit: CoA / Tara Byrne
4/05/2017 3:11 PM
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