10 Maret 2012
Sikorsky MH-60R ASW helicopter (photo : Sikorsky)
AIR 9000 Phase 8 seeks to acquire 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo maritime combat helicopters, associated support systems, and weapons, to replace the existing capability provided by the Navy’s 16 aging S-70B-2 Seahawks, and the cancelled Seasprite project.
The MH-60R is a mature platform currently in service with the United States Navy, with 100 aircraft delivered and 90,000 flying hours achieved at the time of signing the acquisition agreement. The aircraft will be equipped with Hellfire air to surface missiles, Mk 54 torpedoes, dipping sonar, sonobuoy launcher, multi-mode radar, and an integrated self defence system. The primary roles of the MH-60R are Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare, while secondary roles include surveillance, search and rescue, and utility functions.
The MH-60R is a “military off the shelf” solution, although seven minor modifications will be made to adapt the aircraft to suit unique Australian requirements. All aircraft will be delivered in standard USN configuration, with modification work scheduled to occur during the period 2018 – 2020. The project will also necessitate limited modifications to both the Anzac class frigates and Hobart class air warfare destroyers, and planning for this work is underway.
Second Pass approval for the MH-60R project was announced on 16 June 2011. DMO aims to deliver the first aircraft in 2014, and to reach Initial Operating Capability, consisting of the first flight at sea, in 2015. The capability is expected to mature to provide eight embarked flights (in USN configuration) by July 2018. Final Operational Capability, including all ship and aircraft modifications, and a mature weapons suite, will be achieved by 2023. The S-70B-2 will be sustained until the new capability is established.