News | Sept. 7, 2023

U.S., Australian Navy Partnership Proves Maintenance, Readiness; Wins Awards

For the first time, the U.S. and Royal Australian navies have successfully demonstrated a periodic maintenance interval (PMI) on a U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk in Australia. The milestone demonstrates both countries’ commitment to advancing military readiness in the Indo-Pacific region.

H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter Program Office’s Special Projects Team developed a unique, and expedited, acquisition strategy leveraging U.S. and Australian “mateship” to complete the first-ever U.S. Navy aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) in the Indo-Pacific region. An essential piece to readiness is the ability to address emergent MRO requirements outside of normal domestic sites. Broadening the MH-60R MRO facilities and infrastructure around the globe, specifically in today’s world climate, allows for a wider maintenance reach in time of conflict while increasing cooperation with allies. This century-long alliance remains advantageous in this region. 

“Demonstrating successful PMI on a U.S. Navy MH-60R in Australia is a testament to our two nation’s shared trust and commitments in our century-long partnership with the Royal Australian Navy,” said Capt. William Hargreaves, program manager. “Achieving this maintenance event expands our aircraft’s footprint ensuring the fleet is ready to fight tonight.”

U.S. and Australian forces have fought together in every significant conflict since World War I. Showcasing the allegiance and confidence between these allies by entering into an agreement for maintenance and inspection further deepens the “mateship” connection.

Twelve years ago, the program office and Royal Australian Navy’s were further united in a foreign military sale for MH-60 Romeo helicopters.

Sikorsky Aircraft Australia Limited (SAAL), a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems, began the PMI in late-October 2022 in Australia, and finished two months under the projected 10-month timeline.  PMI on the MH-60R included material acceptance and inspection, repairs, and an aircraft functional check flight. The U.S. Navy will conduct post-PMI flight checks upon arrival at Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41, the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) in San Diego, California.

“The principal aim of this activity was to demonstrate to the U.S. the capability of Australian industry and the pathway available to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul of this helicopter in our region,” said Commodore Darren Rae, Royal Australian Navy Director General Navy Aviation, Aircrew Training and Commons. “This demonstration of Australian industry’s support to U.S. Navy helicopter maintenance is a hallmark for the steady progress being made in the U.S.-Australian Alliance.”

Strengthening the U.S.’ partnerships and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region is critical to the nation’s security and to its allies; partnerships like this help defend common interests.

“We have made strides in this PMI demonstration,” Hargreaves said. “We now have the ability to rapidly address emergent MRO requirements, if necessary, outside of standard activity sites during contingency operations.”

The successful PMI, deeply rooted in innovative acquisition strategies and contract execution, also hailed a Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Commander’s Award in May 2023 and an Australian Day Honours Award in January 2023.

The NAVAIR Commander’s Awards recognize outstanding teams and individuals across NAVAIR who have demonstrated creativity, agility and accountability in delivering the capability the fleet needs, on time.

Hargreaves recognized his team’s achievement and went on to say “winning the NAVAIR Commanders Award for this effort truly validated the team’s efforts to further strengthen ties between the two countries and entrusting them to complete the PMI as if on U.S. soil.”

Similarly, and in recognition of the significance of this milestone, Australia’s former MH-60R Seahawk Romeo Helicopter Assurance Program Co-Lead, Commander Andrew Newman, was presented an Australia Day Honours Award in January 2023 of a Conspicuous Service Cross for his outstanding achievements and devotion to pursuing this activity.   

The H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter Program Office provides full-spectrum, world-wide support for the U.S. Navy’s and international partners’ MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters and user communities. The MH-60R Seahawk is the U.S. Navy’s essential submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter enabling anti-submarine and surface warfare.

Additional PMIs in Australia are possible. Once the aircraft has returned to the U.S., the Navy will review all after actions for future potential contract agreements.

From the H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter Program Office.