The Royal Australian Navy has contracted Lockheed Martin subsidiary Sikorsky to modify 12 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
Valued at $49.6 million, the agreement covers the conversion of the Seahawks from their standard foreign military sales design to a customized configuration.
The company has not provided details regarding the changes to Canberra’s naval helicopters.
However, the upgrade is expected to improve the aircraft’s ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare, its primary mission.
“The ‘Romeo’ Seahawk helicopter instills confidence in navies worldwide for its high operational availability in the harsh maritime environment,” Sikorsky Vice President Hamid Salim said.
Work for the contract will be performed in New York, with the first upgraded aircraft scheduled to be delivered in 2025.
The MH-60R Seahawk
The MH-60R Seahawk is a multi-mission naval helicopter capable of performing anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search-and-rescue, naval gunfire support, and surveillance operations.
Regarded as the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter, the Seahawk is equipped with a “highly sophisticated” combat system, employing Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedoes.
The aircraft includes an advanced detecting and tracking system from Raytheon, including forward-looking infrared and a laser rangefinder.
The helicopter is fitted with a sonobuoy launcher and an airborne low-frequency dipping sonar to detect enemy submarines.
Expanding Australia’s Seahawk Fleet
The Royal Australian Navy currently operates 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
In August, Naval Air Systems Command awarded Lockheed Martin a $503.7 million contract to produce and deliver 12 Seahawks.
A follow-on contract for 12 more Seahawks was awarded to the American aerospace firm a month later.
The additional aircraft will form the navy’s third “Romeo” squadron.
The acquisition of 24 more helicopters is part of the country’s 2020 Force Structure Plan, which aims to procure new, advanced capabilities for the armed forces.