The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has taken delivery of first two MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from the US Navy during a ceremony held at the Lockheed Martin facility in Owego, New York, US.
The US Navy has previously agreed to the Australian Defence Force's request for a fleet of 24 MH-60R new-generation, multi-role naval combat aircraft, with the entire fleet to be delivered incrementally by the end of 2016.
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin-built MH-60R helicopters feature complete packages of sensors and systems to address increasing submarine and surface warfare threats.
DMO Helicopter Systems Division head rear admiral Tony Dalton said the delivery of the first two Romeos marks a new era.
"Romeo is an evolutionary step forward from Navy's current Seahawk 'Classic', which it is replacing, building on the known and trusted Seahawk air vehicle and incorporating state-of-the-art sensors in an open architecture, integrated mission system," Dalton said.
The first two RAN's Romeo helicopters will undergo flying operations at the US Navy's Jacksonville Air Station in Florida, US within the next few days.
Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault and Special Mission Programmes executive officer rear admiral CJ Jaynes said: "The advanced anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities of the MH-60 Romeo are a game-changer in shifting the advantage from the submarine to the helicopter, which is essential in today's maritime security environment."
In addition to providing unmatched capability for conducting anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare missions, the MH-60R has the capability for secondary missions including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and VHF/UHF/link communication relay.
Image: The Australian Navy's first two MH-60R helicopters stationed at the Lockheed Martin facility in Owego. Photo: © 2013 Lockheed Martin Corporation.