Australian Navy's Seahawk helicopter conducts final operational flight
The Royal Australian Navy's S-70B-2 (Skeletor) anti-submarine Seahawk helicopter has been retired, after completing more than 28 years of service and logging 6,200 airframe hours.
Skeletor's final flight saw it take off from the deck of the navy’s Anzac-class frigate HMAS Arunta, which was undergoing a maintenance period in Bahrain during deployment in the Middle East.
The helicopter flew into Australia’s main operating base in the region, where it was dismantled and prepared for transport back to the country.
HMAS Arunta flight commander lieutenant commander Stewart Mathies said: “She has behaved brilliantly for us, we are hoping that its replacement does exactly the same.
"She has been an amazing aircraft; just amazing.”
The Australian Navy’s fleet of S-70B-2 helicopters is being replaced by the latest and advanced Seahawk MH-60R helicopter.
The Seahawk MH-60R anti-submarine / anti-surface warfare multi-mission helicopter is also referred to as the 'Romeo', and is operated by 725 Squadron at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia.
A Romeo helicopter is slated to soon arrive in-theatre to enable HMAS Arunta to maintain its extended surveillance and interception capability as it patrols with the multinational Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East.
Mathies added: “The Romeo has already proven itself on operations both with HMAS Perth here in the Middle East last year and on other navy activities.”
The Romeo model features modern combat systems that have been developed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, in addition to the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.
The Australian Navy’s older S-70B-2 helicopters are currently serving with 816 Squadron, and are set be replaced by 24 Seahawk MH-60R naval combat helicopters.
Image: The Royal Australian Navy’s Seahawk Helicopter N24-011 takes off for one last time at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East. Photo: courtesy of CPL Bill Solomou / Royal Australian Navy.