G’Day Mate! MH-60R Helo Heads Down Under

file Lockheed Martin expects to deliver the first two completed MH-60R aircraft of an eventual 24 to the Australian Navy in the first quarter of 2014.

Romeo is about to go international. The Government of Australia informed the U.S. Navy on June 15 it had selected the MH-60R Romeo as the winner of the Air 9000 Phase 8 Future Naval Combat Aircraft competition.

Team Romeo principals Sikorsky Aircraft and mission systems integrator Lockheed Martin — which have co-developed and delivered maritime helicopters for the U.S. Navy for more than 35 years — are teamed with engine manufacturer GE, sensor supplier Raytheon Corp., and training and simulator provider CAE for the Phase 8 competition. In addition to delivering Romeo helicopters, the team plans to bring long-term jobs and work opportunities to Australian industry valued at $1.5 billion over 10 years.

The announcement secures Team Romeo’s position on the world stage and launches a series of meetings between the U.S. and Royal Australian Navies that will ultimately culminate in a contract award to Lockheed Martin later this year. Lockheed Martin expects to deliver the first two completed Romeo aircraft of an eventual 24 in the first quarter of 2014.

The Australians are not unfamiliar with the Romeo. In October 2010, pilots from the Royal Australian Navy came to San Diego to try their hand at flying the highly advanced multi-mission helicopter.

The Romeo aircraft will fulfill Australia’s AIR 9000 Phase 8 requirement that seeks a replacement capability for the Royal Australian Navy’s 16 existing S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, which entered service in the late 1980s.

The MH-60R provides exceptional maritime situational awareness and control of littoral and open ocean environments; dramatic increases in acoustic detection ranges, radar track management and electronic warfare accuracy; autonomous operation; and electronic connectivity to the battle force.

The U.S. Navy employs the Romeo aircraft aboard carriers, cruisers, destroyers and frigates as its most advanced, new generation anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter. Secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, medical evacuation, and communications and data relay.

The U.S. Navy began operating MH-60R aircraft in early 2006 and, since then, it has completed highly successful extended deployments. Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin will deliver the 100th Romeo aircraft to the U.S. Navy in late June. The U.S. Navy is expected to purchase 300 Romeo aircraft by 2018.

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