Back to the Future for Australia’s MH-60R

Royal Australian Navy’s new maritime helicopter will fly under the colors of the 725 Squadron

MH-60R-03-460x300 Lockheed Martin’s 400th Common Cockpit will be installed in Australia’s first MH-60R. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy.

The future of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) helicopter fleet will be rooted in its past.

The first MH-60R helicopters to fly for the RAN will do so under the colors of the 725 Squadron, which was formed more than 50 years ago. The squadron was commissioned, de-commissioned and re-commissioned over a period of decades – its last active date being December 1975.

The rebirth this year of the 725 squadron as the home of the MH-60R Romeo is a celebration of a rich and storied history in Australian naval history and the start of an exciting new chapter.

The historical squadron was first formed in 1943 as a fleet requirements unit. The squadron became an air target towing unit two years later and then disbanded in December 1945.

In January 1958, 725 Squadron re-emerged as a RAN fleet requirements and communications unit at Naval Air Station Nowra, Australia, and operated a varied fleet of aircraft, including the Douglas C-47A Dakota, Auster J5-G Autocar, Hawker Sea Fury Mark IIs, Fairey Firefly AS-5s and the Fairey Gannet AS1s.

In 1959, the squadron’s anti-submarine warfare mission emerged when it was designated a training squadron for the mission. In the ensuing years, the squadron performed tasks such as radar and communications calibration exercises and air interception practice for officers going through warfare training.

In February 1964, an Australian aircraft carrier collided with a destroyer in one of the most tragic accidents in Australian naval history, and the 725 squadron was there to perform search and rescue efforts.

Lockheed Martin provides the digital Common Cockpit to the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters, while Sikorsky manufactures the airframe. The companies have co-developed and delivered helicopters for the U.S. Navy for more than 35 years.

Posted June 13, 2013