The Royal Australian Navy’s first Seahawk MH-60R ‘Romeo’ has successfully completed the final deck landing on HMAS Perth at the end of a rigorous period of First of Class Flight Trials.
The trials were conducted under the direction of the Navy’s Aircraft Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit and marked the culmination of two years of intensive effort.
The Navy’s first Romeo embarked in Perth alongside Fleet Base East in February. Over five weeks, Perth sailed as far south as Hobart and as far north as Hervey Bay, Queensland, chasing the wind, weather and seas required to enable testing of the helicopter to it’s safe limits. The helicopter was configured in a range of operational roles, which included the fitting of Hellfire missiles and torpedoes.
More than 72 hours of flight testing was conducted, including 245 deck landings on Perth both by day and night, with the pilots using night vision goggles on some approaches. Every flight involved the collection and assessment of a huge number of data points, covering a range of flight evolutions, as well as an incalculable number of deck handling and maintenance assessments. The integration of squadron personnel and equipment was also assessed so that lessons could be identified when operating the combat helicopter from an Anzac class frigate.
All of this data will enable the trials unit to recommend Ship Helicopter Operating Limits or SHOLs for various aircraft weights by day and night, including using night vision equipment.
Both HMAS Perth and the Romeo will be reunited later in the year, when personnel from the soon-to-be commissioned 725 Squadron will re-embark for Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015, after the trial data has been fully analysed and the operating limits endorsed.
Image: Australian Navy