The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) will retire its fleet of Sikorsky Seahawk Bravo S-70B-2 helicopters from service on Dec. 1.
The first Seahawk Bravo was delivered to the Navy in 1988 and the last one in 1989. The S-70B-2 will be replaced by its modern, fifth generation variant, MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’, in the RAN fleet.
The Seahawk is an integral part of the RAN ship’s weapons and sensor systems. With its unique sensor suite and integrated weapons systems the helicopter extends the combat radius of the ship by finding, localising and attacking where appropriate, surface or submarine targets either independently or in conjunction with other forces.
A typical Seahawk mission involves up to three hours of low level operations over the sea, day or night, in all weather conditions, often recovering to a ship’s deck which pitches and rolls dramatically in heavy seas, and is generally wet with spray.
The Seahawk’s sensors include: search radar, magnetic anomaly detector and sonics processing for both active and passive sonobuoys. Both forward-looking infra-red and electronic support measures are also to be fitted. The Seahawk’s main weapon is the Mk46 anti-submarine torpedo.
MH-60R Seahawk ‘Romeo’
The Navy has purchased 24 of the Romeos, which are now in service operating out of 725 and 816 Squadrons at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales.
The primary mission of the Romeo helicopter is anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW). Secondary roles include search and rescue (SAR), logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).
With a twin turboshaft engine, the Seahawk is based on the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk design. It is able to deploy from a range of surface ships.
The MH-60R is equipped with highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.