The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has started the first class flight trials (FOCFT) of its MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopter aboard the Anzac-class frigate HMAS Perth, in Cruiser Wharf, Garden Island, Sydney.
The Western Australian-based HMAS Perth, which will be operating on the East Coast for the trials, recently received several upgrades to support the new aircraft.
FOCFT plays a significant role in the introduction of a new helicopter into service and involves the assessment of the ship, aircraft and equipment interfaces. From this recommendations are made for embarked operating envelopes.
HMAS Perth commanding officer captain Ivan Ingham said: "This moment has taken a lot of hard work from many agencies across the Australian Defence Force to get to this stage and Perth is excited at the prospect of being the first to operate at sea with this remarkable new capability."
The trials will include the movement of ship and helicopter between Tasmania and North Queensland. The RAN will also test the ship and helicopter in a range of weather and climate conditions.
HMAS Perth will return to Fleet Base West after the trials, which are expected to be completed by the end of March, to start its unit readiness workup.
After entering service, Romeo helicopters will replace 16 Seahawk 'Classic' helicopters, which provide combat capability to the navy.
The RAN has already received Romeos from the US under a $3.2bn acquisition, with the overall fleet of 24 aircraft to be delivered incrementally by the end of 2016.
Image: MH 60R Seahawk Romeo naval combat helicopter lands on HMAS Perth at Fleet Base East, Garden Island, Sydney. Photo: courtesy of the Commonwealth of Australia.