Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth, currently conducting security operations in the Middle East region as part of Operation Manitou is joined by the new MH-60R or ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter.
This is the Navy’s 63rd Middle East rotation and the first time an Australian warship has deployed with an embarked Seahawk Romeo.
Inside the ship’s aviation department is a team of skilled personnel, focused on ensuring the first operational deployment of the aircraft goes according to plan.
The Flight Commander and lead pilot is Lieutenant Commander Josh Carey.
“It’s a very capable aircraft which considerably increases Perth’s potency and reach,” he said.
“Since deploying, we have been focused on achieving a high flying rate of effort in order to increase our knowledge of this aircraft and all her systems.”
Lockheed Martin, the helicopter manufacturer, delivered the 24th, and final, MH-60R Seahawk helicopter to the Australian Navy in July.
The Commonwealth of Australia chose the MH-60R “Romeo” Seahawk helicopter in June 2011 to fulfill the Australian Defence Force’s requirement for a fleet of 24 new-generation, multi-role naval combat aircraft.
In addition to the MH-60R helicopter’s primary mission areas of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, it also has the capability for secondary missions including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and VHF/UHF/link communication relay.
The new MH-60R helicopters are currently replacing the RAN’s existing fleet of S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters.
“I’m often asked if it is anything like the Bravo,” said Lieutenant Commander Carey.
“The answer is no, as this aircraft represents a major generational change. As a weapon system the two aircraft are simply not comparable.”
Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin will support the RAN fleet through the Maritime Helicopter Support Company (MHSCo), which provides ‘through life support’ logistics services to sustain peak flight readiness for the RAN Seahawk helicopters during the fleet’s estimated 30-year lifespan.