Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Dec13/Jan14 Contents 16 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter Dec - jAn 2014
carried onto an aircraft is time-logged, and the time
it is removed is also logged. The production manager
told APDR that if a tool goes missing, the employee
has 15 minutes to find it. If not found, he/she must
report the fact to their supervisor, who will give him/
her another 30 minutes to look for it. If still not found,
the employee has to stand aside and a safety team
commences a detailed search, not stopping until the
missing tool has been located.
The same production manager told APDR that
employees are definitely not penalised for temporarily
losing a tool, only for not following the correct
protocol. He described how a very nervous new
employee came to him 15 minutes after losing a
socket from a wrench inside an aircraft, and who was
surprised and overwhelmed when he was praised for
doing the right thing in reporting the incident.
The third impression was a sense of timeliness.
Several wall clocks are located throughout the facility,
giving the number of days, hours and minutes left
to complete that month’s production schedule. The
facility is proud that it has never missed a monthly
FIRST 3 AUSTRALIAN ROMEOS ON
During APDR’s visit, the first three Australian
Seahawk Romeos were being worked on in positions
interspersed with US Navy helicopters. There is no
difference in specification between the aircraft for
both nations, and this will continue during future
upgrade programs, as part of the FMS sales process.
The basic MH-60R helicopter is built by Sikorsky at
Troy, Alabama, trucked to Stratford, Connecticut for
temporary mission system installation, and then flown
to Lockheed Martin’s Owego, New York State facility.
Once there, those temporary mission systems
are removed and the aircraft is completely stripped
down and checked, before re-assembly, including
installation of the Lockheed Martin sourced Common
The advanced mission systems sensor suite
developed, integrated and installed by Lockheed
Martin includes electronic support measures with a
helicopter threat warning capability; a forward looking
infrared electro-optical device; multi-mode radar
(including inverse synthetic aperture radar); airborne
low frequency dipping sonar (ALFS) subsystem and
sonobuoys; integrated self defense; and a weapons
suite including torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
The final production stage involves a helicopter
being placed in a blacked out anechoic chamber
where every single aspect of its mission systems can
be tested over a three week period in an environment
totally free from external electromagnetic radiation
and light interference.
After the aircraft emerges, it goes through a
series of functional test flights before being ready
for delivery to the US Navy customer. Of particular
interest to the RAN, which has not had dipping sonar
capability for over 20 years, the aircraft are flown to
the Finger Lakes, about 60 km away, for their final
sonobuoy and dipping sonar testing.
A Seahawk Romeo and its embedded systems
has 220,000 different components. The production
facility is proud to be turning out aircraft to a 6 sigma
What does this mean? Simply a running average
of less than one fault per aircraft delivered.
Although the aircraft fly out of Owego in fully
operational condition, when a Seahawk Romeo is
delivered to the US Navy (as will the Australian
helicopters through the FMS process), skilled Navy
technicians again dis-assemble, re-assemble and
conduct major testing of the aircraft.
WHAT MAKES THE SEAHAWK
The Seahawk Romeo is a state-of-the-art maritime
combat helicopter, fully proven in operational service
with the US Navy. It is a huge step up from the
existing Australian Navy ‘Classic’ Seahawks.
Mission systems are the key to providing capability.
APDR heard informally that when the final evaluation
was being made, to choose between the MRH-90
An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the Wolf Pack of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM)
75 flies by the Italian destroyer Francesco Mimbelli (D561). Credit: USN / Eric M. Butler
Naval Aircrewman loads sonobuoys on an MH-60R.
Credit: USN / Paul Kelly
5/12/13 6:42 PM
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