Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have announced that Sikorsky Australia has been selected by the US Navy to deliver sustainment support for the Royal Australian Navy’s new fleet of MH-60R Romeo maritime combat helicopters.
Sikorsky Australia, a Lockheed Martin company, will provide through-life sustainment support for the Navy’s fleet of MH-60R (Romeo) helicopters at its state of the art maintenance, logistics and repair organisation in Nowra, NSW.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the agreement with the US Navy is a testament to the close ties between the two navies.
"The US Navy play a pivotal and trusted role in the ongoing provision of support to this capability. The government is committed to maximising opportunities for Australian defence industry through its unprecedented investment in defence capability over the next decade," Minister Reynolds explained.
The Royal Australian Navy has established a foreign military sales sustainment agreement with the US Navy and this contract is an extension of the current contract arrangements.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the contract with Sikorsky demonstrates the opportunities that can be realised for Australian industry under an FMS arrangement.
The MH-60R Seahawk is the RAN's next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter and will form a very important part of its operations for years to come.
"Based at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park in Nowra, this contract will sustain the existing workforce of 140 employees and create an additional 39 new positions, including several apprenticeships in the Shoalhaven region of NSW," Minister Price said.
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.
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Minister Price added, "The awarding of this contract is another example of the world-class local industry Australia has to offer."
NSW Minister for Jobs and Investment Stuart Ayres echoed the sentiments of the ministers, welcoming the contract signing and opportunities it would bring to the Shoalhaven community, saying, "It’s fantastic to see how important Defence projects can benefit local communities, providing employment, training and other opportunities while also playing a vital role in sustaining Australia’s Defence capability."
The $276 million contract includes, repairs, depot level maintenance and logistics support for the Navy’s next-generation helicopters, equipped for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, logistics, personnel transport and medical evacuation. It will also create opportunities to re-skill some workers from the civil aerospace sector affected by the COVID-19 downturn.
Minister Ayres added, "The new employees will join 140 already working at the site, including three apprentices from the recent Shoalhaven STEMship Program – a NSW government funded initiative designed to support defence industry workforce development."
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 and will be in various stages of the regular maintenance and training cycle.