Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky Australia has won a through-life sustainment support contract for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R (Romeo) helicopters.

The company has been selected by the US Navy. Australia acquired 24 MH-60R multi-mission helicopters through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process from the US Navy.

The MH-60R is the RAN’s next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The US Navy play a pivotal and trusted role in the ongoing provision of support to this capability.

“The Morrison government is committed to maximising opportunities for the Australian defence industry through its unprecedented investment in defence capability over the next decade.”

In 2017, the US State Department approved the Australian Government’s request for a ten-year upgrade programme for the 24 MH-60R helicopters.

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The latest contract is an extension of the current FMS contract arrangements between the countries.

The helicopter was introduced into service with the RAN in 2014 with 2048 planned as the withdrawal year.

Work under the contract will be conducted at Sikorsky’s maintenance, logistics and repair organisation in Nowra, New South Wales (NSW).

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said: “Based at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park in Nowra, this contract will sustain the existing workforce of 140 employees and create an additional 39 new positions, including several apprenticeships in the Shoalhaven Region of NSW.

“The awarding of this contract is another example of the world-class local industry Australia has to offer.”

In February, Sikorsky Aircraft secured a second contract valued at $470.8m from the US Navy to build six production VH-92A helicopters for the presidential helicopter replacement programme.