Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly AM MP today announced the first of 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters has successfully completed its first test flight.
The initial test flight occurred at Sikorsky’s Production Facility, Connecticut USA on 26 June 2013. It passed a range of tests including controllability, engine performance, vibration analysis and navigation as well as the ‘Contractor Flight Acceptance’ phase.
“The Federal Government has invested over $3 billion in acquiring 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters, representing a sizeable commitment toward Australia’s ongoing air combat capability,” Dr Kelly said.
“The MH-60R Seahawk Romeo will replace the 16 Seahawk ‘Classic’ helicopters and will introduce an air-to-surface strike capability.
“The US Navy and its industry partners have worked hard to accelerate the Romeo acquisition program and this first flight occurred only two years after contract signature, some six months ahead of the original schedule approved by Government in 2011.”
The acquisition of 24 Seahawk Romeos allows the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) to provide at least eight helicopters embarked at any one time with Australia’s Anzac Class frigates and the new Hobart Class air warfare destroyers, with the remainder based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra.
Commodore Vince Di Pietro, Commander of the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, said the flight is exciting news for the Navy.
“The RAN will very shortly be flying the most capable Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface helicopter in the world and it will be a quantum increase to our current helicopter force – both in numbers and capability,” CDRE Di Pietro said.
The first helicopter is now being prepared for transit to Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego, New York, where it will be fitted with its highly capable mission systems and sensors.
A further three Australian helicopters are currently in various stages of assembly with the first two planned to be handed over to the RAN in December 2013.
Aircrew and maintainers from 725 Squadron have already commenced training with the United States Navy at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, USA while they await the arrival of their own aircraft in 2014.
Imagery of the aircraft’s first flight is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130572.
Dr Kelly’s office: Robbie Rynehart (02) 6277 7730 or 0459 810 654