Patrick Durrant & Nigel Pittaway | Sydney & Melbourne
Australia has been approved by the US State Department for a $360 million upgrade program for the 24 recently delivered MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’ helicopters nearing full operational capability with the RAN.
ADM understands that in order to keep in line with the US spiral development program for the platform, the Commonwealth has requested the 10-year program for upgrades including associated training devices, parts, serivces and logistic and program support.
The prime user of the platform (the US Navy) is committed to a long-term preplanned product improvement program, also known as P3I, to keep the MH-60R current throughout its life. Recent upgrades have included vital software and mission management systems in the Situational Awareness Technology Insertion (SATI) package as well as design upgrades to the Identification Friend-or-Foe Interrogator Subsystem. Combined with the aircraft’s Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination system, the MH-60R’s range of detection will expand – enhancing situational awareness and advanced threat detection – while interference with civil air traffic control systems will diminish.
The MH-60R Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM) system, which provides aircrew with valuable threat-warning capabilities, has benefited from the installation and maintenance of an ESM autoloader, and the development of Mission Data Loads, which comprise a database of possible threats within a specific region of operations.
Smaller elements are included as well, including the integration of a new multi-function radio called the ARC210 Gen 5, crucial spare assemblies and integration of other core technologies. The Gen 5 radio will provide MH-60R aircrew with flexible and secure communication.
The proposed upgrades will provide Australia the resources necessary to properly maintain its multi-mission helicopters through Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky, which would act as the principal contractor under the proposed program.
For more on the Romeo's introduction into RAN service see deputy editor-at-large Nigel Pittaway's story in the forthcoming October edition of ADM.