HMAS Toowoomba and its embarked MH-60R Romeo Seahawk, known as ‘Nightmare’, have demonstrated the growing interoperability and capability of the platform partnership as part of the deployment to the Middle East.
HMAS Toowoomba’s embarked MH-60R Seahawk, has proven to be a valuable contribution to the International Maritime Security Construct in the Middle East that includes Albania, Bahrain, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US.
Toowoomba is providing support to the IMSC and the Combined Maritime Force’s Combined Task Force 150 in the Middle East as part of its six-month deployment on Operation Manitou.
Leading Seaman Aircrewman Ian Gollop said Nightmare contributes to surface surveillance, which enhances the tactical picture beyond the visual horizon by compiling data from active and passive sensors for the IMSC and the ship.
"The surveillance serves to locate, identify, track and investigate potential threats to maritime security. We regularly provide the link between the Combined Maritime Forces’ assets, such as the United States Navy fighter jets, maritime patrol aircraft and HMAS Toowoomba," LS Gollop explained.
The ship’s company’s support to the IMSC and the CMF is part of the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to international efforts to promote security, stability and prosperity in the region.
This is the 68th rotation of a Royal Australian Navy unit to the Middle East since 1990, Toowoomba’s sixth, and her second as part of Operation Manitou.
Flight 1, 816 Squadron Flight Commander and pilot, Lieutenant Commander Matthew Hudson, said Nightmare’s ability to cohesively work alongside coalition assets demonstrates the Australian Defence Force’s close alliance with the other partners of the IMSC.
LCDR Hudson added, "We continue to be an integral capability within the construct and have proven our interoperability with other nations. Our maintenance team has worked tirelessly to ensure that we have a serviceable asset to complement Toowoomba’s arsenal."
The MH-60R Seahawk is the Royal Australian Navy's next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter and will form a very important part of its operations for years to come.
The MH-60R is equipped with a highly sophisticated combat system designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo. The primary missions of the 'Romeo' helicopter is anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare.
Secondary missions include search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.
The MH-60R and its mission systems replaced the fleet’s S-70B-2 Seahawk aircraft, which retired from service on 1 December 2017.
The Australian government approved the acquisition of 24 MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ naval combat helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion. The helicopters are largely military off-the-shelf built by Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, and were acquired through the FMS process from the US Navy.
Navy will have the capacity to provide at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time, including Anzac Class frigates and the new air warfare destroyers.
The remainder will be based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, NSW, and will be in various stages of the regular maintenance and training cycle.