Australian Navy retires Skeletor ASW helicopter

Australian Navy Seahawk Helicopter N24-011 takes off for one last time at Australia's main operating base in the Middle East. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The Royal Australian Navy has retired the Seahawk helicopter ‘Skeletor’ after more than 28 years of service and a career logging 6,200 airframe hours.

Navy took the opportunity to retire the anti-submarine helicopter S-70B-2, serial N24-011 during HMAS Arunta’s recent maintenance period in Bahrain while deployed in the Middle East.

The helicopter’s last flight from the ship was into Australia’s main operating base in the region, where it was dismantled and prepared for transport back to Australia.

The Australian Navy’s fleet of S-70B-2 helicopters is being replaced by the newer Seahawk MH-60R helicopter, often referred to as the Romeo model, which is operated by 725 Squadron at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.

A Romeo model will soon arrive in-theatre so Arunta can maintain its extended surveillance and interception capability as it patrols with the multinational Combined Maritime Forces in the Middle East.

Lieutenant Commander Mathies said the Romeo was navy’s next generation of submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter.

“The Romeo has already proven itself on operations both with HMAS Perth here in the Middle East last year and on other navy activities,” he said.

The MH-60R is equipped with highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.

Twenty four Romeo naval combat helicopters will replace the older S-70B-2 helicopters currently serving with 816 Squadron.

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