A Sikorsky MH-60R "Romeo" Maritime Combat Helicopter, NUSQN 725, loaded with a Mk 54 torpedo during a firing serial in Florida. Photo courtesy of the Australian Navy
The U.S. State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale of a Sikorsky MH-60R upgrade program to Australia, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Congress was notified Aug. 30.
According to the agency, the Australian government requested a follow-on case for a possible 10-year upgrade program for 24 aircraft and associated training devices, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, engineering and technical services, and other technical and logistical services. Total estimated program cost is $360 million.
“This sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Western Pacific,” the agency said. “It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist our ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
The agency went on to say that the upgrades would improve antisubmarine and surface warfare capability, search and rescue capability, and anti-ship surveillance capability. It would also improve Australia’s ability to perform missions for international commitments, like transport, surveillance, and search and rescue. The deal would provide necessary resources for proper maintenance, and the agency said Australia would “have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.”
Sikorsky would be the principal contractor.
The Australian Navy took delivery of its 24th and final MH-60R in 2016. Costing more than $3 billion, the navy said the helicopters replaced the navy’s fleet of Sikorsky S-70B-2s.