Dec 17, 2014

Royal Australian Navy prepares for March 2015 flight trials on first-of-class LHD HMAS Canberra

The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will commence first-of-class flight trials on board its newly-commissioned landing helicopter dock (LHD) vessel HMAS Canberra in March 2015.
The ship was commissioned on 28 November and is expected to be cleared to operate the MRH-90 multirole helicopter, the S-70B-2 Seahawk, and the CH-47F Chinook.
Commander Michael Waddell, Officer in Charge of the RAN's Aircraft Maintenance and First deck-handling trials took place on 26 November while the ship was alongside at the RAN's Fleet Base East in Sydney, with an MRH-90 and an S-70B-2, and did not involve flight operations.
The actual flight trials while the ship is at sea will be conducted for about eight weeks from early March 2015.
The trials in March 2015 will only involve the MRH-90 and the S-70B-2.
There are no plans currently to embark any other aircraft on the LHDs besides the MRH-90, the S-70B-2, the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, and the CH-47F. The Tiger and the CH-47F will undergo sea trials on board Canberra in 2016.
Although the Canberra class is currently only intended to operate rotary-wing aircraft, the retention of the ski-ramp forward (a legacy of the design's antecedents in Spain's Juan Carlos I strategic projection ship) has raised the possibility that the ships could, in due course, operate fixed-wing short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft.
In May 2014, a spokesman for Defence Minister told that the country will consider acquiring the STOVL variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

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