These two Seahawks mark the halfway point for the U.S. Navy’s foreign military sales agreement with the Commonwealth of Australia for training and production of 24 MH-60R helicopters, which began in June 2011.
“As they come off the production line, the Australians have picked them up two at a time,” said Cmdr. Scott Stringer, HX-21 MH-60 government flight test director. “This is a multi-year plan that should carry into mid-2016. We are delivering brand new aircraft to the Australians. They still have that new car smell with very few flight hours.”
RAN squadron 725 is in the process of establishing MH-60R operations at NAS Nowra, New South Wales.
Later this year, HX-21 and RAN squadron 725 are scheduled to test unique modifications on the MH-60Rs. These modifications are based on unique RAN requirements and include the addition of an instrument landing system and a crash-survivable data recorder.
The collaborative U.S. and RAN test and evaluation of the MH-60R modifications also allows for an open exchange of professional views and experiences.
Because of interoperability -- how the two navies have trained and operated together -- Stringer explained how he could foresee a U.S. Navy H-60 pilot seamlessly operating during a cross-deck tour on an Australian ship or vice versa.
“We have six people supporting the MH-60R acquisition and sustainment effort at Pax River and share office space with the RAAF Classic Hornet and Super Hornet sustainment team,” said Cmdr. Andrew Dawes, RAN MH-60R project resident team lead. “This is something we take a great deal of pride in and greatly appreciate the support that everyone at NAS Pax River is providing in this process.”
The mission of HX-21 is to conduct the highest quality developmental flight test and evaluation of rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft, airborne systems in support of all United States Navy and United States Marine Corps training, operational combat and operational combat support missions.
Two more MH-60R Seahawk helicopters inside a C-17 transport aircraft for their delivery to the Royal Australian Navy, which has now received half of the 24 Seahawks it has on order.