Australian Navy MH 60 helicopter

The Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R Romeo maritime combat helicopters have successfully fired Mk54 lightweight torpedoes, as part of the ongoing deployment to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre (AUTEC).

During the tests, a Romeo helicopter was able to launch three anti-submarine Mk54s against dynamic targets, provided by US Navy staff at the AUTEC range.

Furthermore, crews from the navy’s NUSQN 725, who were operating Romeo, localised, tracked and accurately classified targets using the sensors deployed within the helicopters, prior to being given approval for the weapon launch.

Gauntlet 03 lieutenant Steve McConville said: "This is a significant event for the Royal Australian Navy and Fleet Air Arm.

"As the aircraft captain, it was a privilege to be involved in the first launch."

Working together with their US counterparts, RAN maintenance crews gained vital experience of weapon loading during the exercise.

"This is a significant event for the Royal Australian Navy and Fleet Air Arm."

Maintenance watch supervisor chief petty officer Roderick Stuart said: "The weapons events were a significant achievement for the squadron maintenance teams.

"The benefits gained from the deployment to AUTEC will definitely lay solid foundations to continue these events on [the] return to Australia."

Instructors from the US Navy’s helicopter maritime strike wing atlantic weapons school had to monitor and evaluate the weapons employment sorties, and provided comprehensive debriefing and feedback to all crews.

The Mk54 torpedo, which is currently being integrated into Australia’s MH-60R and P-8A aircraft, offers major capability improvements compared with Mk46, which is deployed on the S-70B and AP-3C aircraft.

Image: The Mk54 torpedo being loaded onto a MH-60R Romeo maritime combat helicopter, NUSQN 725 in Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of the Royal Australian Navy.

Defence Technology