Jan 27, 2014
Royal Australian Navy takes delivery of new Seahawk 'Romeo' helicopters
The Navy has bought 24 of the new Seahawks, which are modelled on the Black Hawk helicopters used by the Army.
The first two rolled off the production line of US manufacturer Lockheed Martin in December and the rest are expected by the end of next year.
Instead of bringing the first few back home straight away, the RAN has sent its crews to the US naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, for training.
The US Navy has been flying the aircraft for more than five years.
The Australian crews will head home to their base at HMAS Albatross in Nowra with more of the choppers later this year for deployment on ANZAC (Australian New Zealand Army Corps) class frigates.
The aircraft are significantly more advanced than the older Bravo Seahawks they will replace. The new model can use the Hellfire missile and modern sensors.
The helicopters will be carrying out an anti-submarine, surface warfare role for the RAN.
Prior to the acquisition of the Romeo helicopters, the RAN had significant problems finding new helicopters capable of carrying missiles.
A fleet of Seasprites purchased by the Federal Government in 1997 were years late in delivery and plagued with expensive problems.
The helicopter's cockpits were too small for some pilots, and a number of software faults meant they were not safe to fly at night or in low visibility.
As the estimated losses topped, the scrapped the program in 2008, deciding instead to buy the Romeos.