US approves MH-60R Romeo upgrades

Loaded with Hellfire Captive Air Training Missiles, HMAS Ballarat's embarked Romeo Seahawk launches to conduct a Surface Warfare exercise  during Exercise Bersama Shield 17.The United States has approved a possible upgrade program for the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) MH-60R multi-mission helicopter fleet under an estimated US$360 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) deal.

The Australian Government has requested a possible 10-year upgrade program for the RAN’s 24 MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on August 31. The principal contractor would be Sikorsky, now a fully-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.

“The proposed upgrades to the MH-60R helicopters will improve Australia’s anti-submarine and surface warfare capability, provide an improved search and rescue capability, enhance its anti-ship surveillance capability, and will help it carry out international commitments for transport, surveillance, and search and rescue operations with the United States and other allies,” the DSCA said in a statement.

“The proposed upgrades will also provide Australia the resources necessary to properly maintain its multi-mission helicopters. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.”

The upgrade program would cover associated training devices, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, engineering and technical services, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, Engineering Change Proposals (ECPs), ECPs for training devices, classified software (JMPS/MDLs), Engineering Technical Assistance (ETA), Logistics Technical Assistance (LTA), Other Technical Assistance (OTA), supply support, support equipment, and other related elements of logistics and program support, the DSCA said.

The Romeos are operated by 725 and 816 Squadrons and based out of HMAS Albatross in Nowra. They were manufactured by Sikorsky and equipped with mission systems and sensors by Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training.