Training of aircrew for the new MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo' heliopters has commenced in earnest now that the team at the soon-to-be-commissioned 725 Squadron have all returned from Jacksonville, Florida.
The Romeo helicopters will replace the Navy's S-70B-2 Seahawks in anti-submarine and anti-surface wartime roles.
The first MH-60R Aircrew Operational Flight Training Courses to be delivered on home soil have started, and as of 27 March, the first of two flight simulators has been commissioned into service, opened by the Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis.
Head of the Defence Materiel Organisation – Helicopters, Tactical Unmanned Systems and Guided Weapons Division, Rear Admiral Tony Dalton, said the simulators would be invaluable in preparing Navy crews for advanced maritime combat operations from Navy ships all over the world.
“These full-motion simulators are incredibly sophisticated training devices," Rear Admiral Dalton said.
"We can use them to train aircrew in how to fly the aircraft and then when they’ve mastered that, how to operate the aircraft tactically.
"We can turn the radar on, put sonar in the water, chase ships and submarines, we can fire missiles and torpedos and we can do all that inside the training device. The simulators provide training under real life conditions but are far safer and more cost effective.”
Basic and advanced aircrew courses have commenced training at the purpose-built MH-60R facilities on the western side of the home of the Fleet Air Arm, HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.
The training facilities were handed to Navy in December last year and provide both aircrew simulation and maintenance training at a level never seen before.
One of the planned flight simulators, otherwise known as the Tactical Operational Flight Trainer, is now in operation, and in the future, the two simulators will be capable of being linked to provide for dual aircraft operations. It is expected that the second simulator will be delivered in 2016.
This is a major enabler as the Fleet Air Arm moves to dipping and multi-scenario weapon employment operations.
The courses are designed to deliver qualified aircrew that will progress to embarked flights at sea where they will further grow their experience with both the aircraft and ship systems. Collectively, all training throughput has been structured to provide the Navy with an aviation force that will transition the MH-60R into operational service with the required number of aircrew and maintenance staff, whilst supporting the draw down and removal from service of the S-70B-2.
The MH-60R aircrew training courses are expected to deliver 30 qualified aircrew per year across two courses. Students will conduct ground, simulator and airborne training to prepare them to operate the Romeo at sea and be equipped with skills across both surface and sub-surface domains to build a thorough understanding of all the complex systems that enable this potent maritime combat capability.
More images available in the Navy Image Gallery http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150753