Critical maintenance of US Navy and Australian MH-60R Seahawk and Black Hawk helicopters could be achieved domestically within Australia, according to Sikorsky Australia general manager Cliff Kyle.
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The Royal Australian Navy (retired) commander said a US Navy Romeo helicopter repaired at the Nowra facility in late 2022 is proof of concept and shows evidence of future interchangeability between the US, Australian, and other international agencies using Seahawk and Black Hawk helicopters.
Commander Kyle made the comments at the Indo Pacific 2023 International Maritime Exposition on 7 November.
Sikorsky Australia, a Lockheed Martin company, already sustains and supports RAN’s Seahawk fleet and has upcoming plans for an expansion of logistics and enhanced workshops at the Nowra facility, he said.
There’s incredible synergy between the Black Hawk and Romeo, including component maintenance and airframe maintenance. In addition, more than 70 helicopter components have been repatriated to Australian production, he said.
Sikorsky Australia is also keen to establish a skills base apprenticeship program and establish a cohort of 20 apprentices at any one time, he said. It’s understood the current apprenticeship program takes three to four years to produce skilled personnel and has not completely recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels.