19 Juli 2014
A MH-60R 'Romeo' Maritime Combat Helicopter, NUSQN 725, loaded with a Mk 54 torpedo during a firing serial in Florida, United States of America. (all photos : RAN)
In only seven months of operating the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ Maritime Combat Helicopter, NUSQN 725 has achieved successful Mk 54 torpedo firings during the current deployment to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre (AUTEC).
In a Royal Australian Navy first, a total of three Mk 54 torpedos were employed against dynamic targets provided by United States Navy staff at the AUTEC range.
NUSQN 725 aircrews were required to utilise all available MH-60R sensors to localise, track, and correctly classify these targets prior to being given approval for the weapon release.
For the participating crews it was the culmination of an intense anti-submarine warfare training period covering all areas of MH-60R tactical operations with detailed lectures and challenging simulator events preparing the crews well for the exercise.
Lieutenant Steve McConville from Gauntlet 03 crew said being the first Royal Australian Navy MH-60R to employ the Mk54 was a fantastic opportunity.
“This is a significant event for the Royal Australian Navy and Fleet Air Arm. As the aircraft captain it was a privilege to be involved in the first launch.”
Aircraft maintainers from MH-60R 'Romeo' Maritime Combat Helicopter, NUSQN 725 loading the Mk 54 torpedo onto the aircraft in Florida, United States of America.
Maintenance staff involved in the event also gained significant experience from the weapon loading evolutions. Working alongside their United States Navy counterparts provided them with valuable exposure as to how the aircraft interfaces with a range of weapons.
As a maintenance watch supervisor Chief Petty Officer Roderick Stuart had the responsibility of ensuring aircraft were correctly loaded and configured.
"The weapons events were a significant achievement for the squadron maintenance teams."
"The benefits gained from the deployment to AUTEC will definitely lay solid foundations to continue these events on return to Australia."
The weapons employment sorties were monitored and evaluated by United States Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic Weapons School instructors with detailed debriefing and feedback provided to all crews. The United States Navy instructional staff were extremely impressed with the skills displayed by the Australian crews, and assessed all events as successful.
The Mk 54 torpedo is being introduced to the Royal Australian Navy for the MH-60R and P-8A. It provides significant capability improvements over the Mk 46 currently in use with the S-70B and AP-3C aircraft. Defence also has in service the MU90 torpedo which is also considered to be a superior Anti-Submarine Warfare weapon.