Aircrew, maintainers and support personnel of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) 725 Squadron marked another milestone Dec. 12 when their first pair of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters touched down at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, after a two-day flight from the Lockheed Martin facility in Owego, N.Y.
Pilots Lt. Cmdr. Peter Talbot (No.1) and Lt. Cmdr. Josh Carey (No.2) were selected to fly the first "Romeos" to their temporary home at NAS Jacksonville.
Talbot, who is also the squadron training officer, has served 19 years in RAN and counts more than 1,600 flight hours in the Seahawk platform. "The MH-60 Romeo represents a bold new world of avionics and mission systems, including anti-submarine warfare dipping sonar capability, as well as a robust anti-surface warfare capability."
As for the flight from New York to Jacksonville, Talbot said, "For an Australian pilot, it was the flight of a lifetime. We followed the historic and scenic Hudson River to New York City, where we snapped some photos of our Romeos with the skyline and the Statue of Liberty in the background."
RAN 725 Squadron Executive Officer Lt. Cmdr. Todd Glynn joined a modest crowd to welcome the flight.
"This is a fantastic day for 725 Squadron and U.S. Navy Foreign Military Sales that's been four years in the making. We now look forward to training in our own Romeos. By this time next year we expect to have seven Romeos in the hangar," said Glenn.
He added that the squadron's flight crews, maintainers and support staff have completed training with fleet replacement squadron HSM-40 at NS Mayport, as well as the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Jacksonville.
"We've also completed months of on-the-job-training with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM)70, HSM-72 and HSM-46. In fact, the classroom and simulator instruction, coupled with hands-on training in the hangar bay and flight line, have brought us to where we are today. Now, instead of using other squadrons' assets, we have our first two Romeos to schedule for flight operations," said Glynn.
U.S. Navy Capt. David Revelle is a foreign military sales (FMS) liaison with the NAVAIR PMA-299 Multi-mission Helicopter Team.
"The services provided to RAN 725 by this FMS agreement is for 24 MH-60R helicopters. Normally, foreign military sales consist of equipment that is delivered to a foreign military. This agreement with the Australian Defense Force is different," said Revelle.
"In addition to providing equipment, the U.S. Navy includes a 'total package' of training, technical and logistics support. It's taken years to get where we are right now, but the past 10 months of training have gone very well. Our plan is to deliver six additional 'Romeos' to 725 Squadron at NAS Jacksonville in 2014," he continued.
Revelle noted that NAVAIR was selected to build MH-60R helicopter facilities in Australia, so their hangars, simulators and maintenance trainers will be almost identical to those at NAS Jacksonville.
"This program reflects the fact that Australia is one of our closest allies. And so far, the support we've received from commands at NAS Jacksonville has been fantastic," said Revelle.
Capt. Ray Saad, RAN design acceptance representative for the MH-60R Seahawk, is responsible for working with squadron personnel to set up maintenance and logistics records.
"There are many types of aircraft inspections required for proper maintenance and safety of naval aircraft. As we all know, aircraft are subject to a variety of stresses, strains, vibrations and harsh environments - so maintenance is often performed in conjunction with inspections," said Saad.
"The acceptance inspection is performed whenever a squadron accepts a newly assigned aircraft. It includes an inventory of all equipment listed in the aircraft inventory record, a configuration verification, hydraulic fluid and fuel sampling, and a full systems functional check flight," said Saad.
By Clark Pierce, Jax Air News
Source: US Navy
Date: Dec 17, 2013