A Defense Security Cooperation Agency news release has confirmed the US State Department has approved the potential foreign military sale for an MH-60R upgrade program, a package worth US$360 million ($453 million).
The Commonwealth's request includes a 10-year upgrade program for 24 MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters and associated training devices, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, engineering and technical services, US government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, engineering change proposals (ECPs), ECPs for training devices, classified software (JMPS/MDLs), engineering technical assistance, logistics technical assistance, other technical assistance, supply support, support equipment, and other related elements of logistics and program support.
The principal contractors will be the original equipment manufacturers Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin.
In the DSCA news release of the possible sale, the agency said the proposed upgrades to the MH-60R helicopters will improve Australia’s antisubmarine and surface warfare capability, provide an improved search and rescue capability, enhance its anti-ship surveillance capability, and will help it carry out international commitments for transport, surveillance and search and rescue operations with the US and other allies.
The proposed upgrades will also provide Australia the resources necessary to properly maintain its multi-mission helicopters.
Australia acquired its 24 MH-60R's helicopters under project AIR 9000 Phase 8 under an estimated $3 billion deal to replace the S-70B-2 Seahawk aircraft.
The primary missions of the 'Romeo' helicopters are anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.
With the full fleet of 24 helicopters, at least eight Navy ships at sea, including Anzac Class frigates and the new Air Warfare Destroyers, can have an MH-60R on board to provide extra capabilities while the remainder are based at the RAN’s 725 Squadron in Nowra, New South Wales at HMAS Albatross.