DELIVERY OF the first two Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawks to Australia took place on October 14, when they arrived at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, New South Wales, on board a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III. They were airfreighted in from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, where the C-17A had arrived to pick them up on October 9.
RAN aircrew and maintenance personnel have already been training on the new helicopters at Jacksonville for some time. A total of 24 are on order, all of which will be operated by 725 Squadron in the anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare role. Until it is formal commissioning, the unit has been designated NUSQN 725 (New Squadron 725) and had officially inducted its first two MH-60Rs into service at Jacksonville on January 24, 2014. They were joined by two more on February 25.
The first two helicopters at Nowra are due to begin test flying there within a few weeks and a further pair are scheduled to be delivered to the base in mid-November. Two more will follow in mid-December, with all 24 due to arrive by 2017. Alan Warnes