First Australian MH-60R Seahawk Romeo takes flight
The first MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopter in production for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has completed its first test flight at Sikorsky’s Production Facility in the US on 26 June 2013.
The flight saw the aircraft undergo a number of tests, including controllability, engine performance, vibration analysis and navigation as well as the ‘Contractor Flight Acceptance’ phase. All tests were declared successful.
The RAN is to receive 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters as part of a $3 billion investment plan to upgrade the RAN’s helicopter fleet. The new aircraft will enable the force to have 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.
Australian Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly said: ‘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.
‘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 programme and this first flight occurred only two years after contract signature, some six months ahead of the original schedule approved by government in 2011.’
Commodore Vince Di Pietro, Commander of the Navy’s Fleet Air Arm, said: ‘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.’
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.
The first two aircraft will be handed over to the RAN in December 2013.
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