First Royal Saudi Navy MH-60R arrives at Mayport for flight crew training

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, recently purchased by the Royal Saudi Arabian Navy, is directed on the flight line at Naval Station Mayport, Oct. 2, 2018. Photo: US Navy

The first of ten future Royal Saudi Arabian Navy MH60-R Seahawk helicopters landed at Naval Station Mayport on October 2.

Saudi pilots and crew are expected to spend the next three years training with HSM 40, a helicopter squadron based out of Naval Station Mayport.

“This is an exciting day!” said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Miller, the training officer for the “Airwolves” of Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 40. “This is the first of a series of five aircraft that will be joining us here at HSM 40.”

“We are responsible for providing the training that the foreign military sales office has contracted with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Miller said. “[We will be providing the training] for their 250 plus, pilots, aircrew and maintainers.”

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mazin Alshahrani, the officer in charge of the Saudi detachment. “We appreciate our partnership with the US Navy and especially the squadron, HSM 40.”

Once the detachment is fully trained, 10 aircraft, including five from Mayport, will be shipped to Saudi Arabia where a new squadron will be stood up.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has purchased 10 MH60-R helicopters,” Miller said. “Five of those aircraft will be homebased in Mayport for the next three years. [This one] is the first of those aircraft. We expect one more per month for the next four months. The remaining five aircraft will remain in the United States until all of the remaining aircraft are ready to be shipped back to Saudi Arabia to join the Royal Saudi Naval fleet.”

In another milestone for the Saudi MH-60R program, first students from the Royal Saudi Naval Forces completed the inaugural MH-60R Sensor Operator Course offered by the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity (NETSAFA) International Training Center (NITC) in late September.

The NITC course is the latest step for preparing the RSNF students for flight operations in the MH-60R multi-mission helicopter.

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