MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter CompetitionAug 09, 2012 14:57 UTC by Defense Industry Daily staff
Australia’s SEA 8000, Phase 8 project aimed to buy 24 modern naval helicopters. They would replace its 16 existing S-70B-2 naval helicopters, and might even replace the disastrous A$1.1 billion, 11-helicopter SH-2G “Super Seasprite” acquisition attempt as well. With a total sales and support value of over A$ 3 billion, it was a highly coveted award.
The finalists were familiar, and both had roots in Australia. Sikorsky’s MH-60R is a modernized descendant of the RAN’s existing S-70Bs anti-submarine helicopters, and Australia’s army operates the S-70A utility helicopter. On the other hand, a multi-billion dollar 2006 order made the European NH90-TTH (“MRH-90″) the Army’s future helicopter, to replace their S-70As and H-3 Sea Kings. Some MRH-90s will even serve as Navy utility helicopters, and NHI/Eurocopter’s NH90-NFH naval variant would build on that base. So why did the MH-60R make Australia its 1st export win?
A combination of problems with its “MRH-90s,” slow NH90 TTH development, MH-60R naval interoperability benefits with Australia’s principal ally, and the MH-60R’s low-risk already-operational status tipped the balance.
The first 2 MH-60R Future Naval Aviation Combat Systems will arrive in mid-2014 for testing and evaluation, with an operational target date of mid-2015. Australia’s DoD states that the fleet of 24 will:
“…provide at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time, including ANZAC Class frigates [8 bought] and the new Air Warfare Destroyers [3 bought]. The remainder will be based at HMAS Albatross in Nowra, New South Wales, and will be in various stages of the regular maintenance and training cycle.”
There’s a regular cycle of ship maintenance and training, as well as deployments, which means Australia never has all of these ships at sea at one time. The helicopters can rotate among ships as they enter training & service stages, allowing full coverage with some helicopters left over. Unless the 4-ship Improved Adelaide Class is added to this mix, however, the decision as discussed does raise the question of how to equip Australia’s expensively-upgraded FFG-7 frigates with naval helicopters. One option may involve some sort of service-extension program for the existing S-70B-2s, whether through refurbishment, or by rotating a larger pool of S-70Bs among a small set of operational ships.
Contracts & Key Events
Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and is expected to be complete by December 2013. This non-commercial contract was procured and solicited on a sole source basis by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN, acting as Australia’s FMS agent (N00164-12-G-JQ66).
July 11/12: MH-60Rs under MYP-8 contract? Sikorsky signs an $8.5 billion firm-fixed-price umbrella contract with the US government to buy 653 H-60M, MH-60S, and MH-60R helicopters, with options for up to 263 more that could push the contract as high as $11.7 billion (W58RGZ-12-C-0008). Interestingly, Sikorsky adds that:
“To reach the full baseline value of $8.5 billion, the services are ordering aircraft in the base agreement to be sold via the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales program. These aircraft include Foreign Military Sale (FMS) UH-60M aircraft for several allied countries and MH-60R SEAHAWK anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy… BLACK HAWK and SEAHAWK aircraft deliveries under the new contract will begin this month.”
Read “Sikorsky’s $8.5-11.7B “Multi-Year 8? H-60 Helicopter Contract” for full coverage.
June 28/12: IMDS/HUMS. Simmonds Precision Products (United Technologies’ Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems) in Vergennes, VT receives a $9.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 120 various Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System kits in support of The US Navy and Australia’s MH-60R/S helicopters. As their name implies, these embedded sensors are used to detect mechanical problems in critical areas of the helicopter, allowing maintenance to shift from a regular schedule regardless of need, to a “condition-based” response to problems while they’re still small.
The US Navy gets 11 retrofit kits and one Delta retrofit kit, 18 integrated vehicle health management units and data transfer units, and 18 production kits.
Australia receives 24 Troy kits, 24 integrated vehicle health management units and data transfer units, and 24 production kits for its 24 MH-60Rs.
Work will be performed in Vergennes, VT, and is expected to be complete in March 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. US NAVAIR manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2015).
June 11/12: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT receives a $19.1 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for one-time engineering efforts to support delivery of 24 Australian baseline MH-60R helicopters.
Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be complete in September 2017. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-08-G-0010).
April 20/12: Avionics. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $126.5 million modification to Australia’s previous advance acquisition contract, which turns its preliminary order for 24 MH-60R mission systems and common cockpits into a finalized firm-fixed-price contract. This brings all contracts related to these sub-systems up to $315.1 million, or $13.13 million per helicopter. Note that “mission systems” reach well beyond the cockpit, to include things like the maritime radar, integration of the dipping sonar and sonobuoy systems, weapons capabilities, etc.
Work will be performed in Owego, NY (58%); Farmingdale, NY (25%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); Lewisville, TX (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%), and is expected to be completed in March 2017. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD acts as Australia’s agent to manage the contract (N00019-11-C-0020).
March 13/12: Sikorsky in Stratford, CT received a $27.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for the “advanced procurement funding services in support of the Royal Australia Navy MH-60R program.” Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 13/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).
MH-60R picked, contracts begin; Australian industry; MRH-90 problems.
Dec 29/11: Avionics. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $103.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Australia. It covers common cockpit and mission electronics to equip 24 MH-60R helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy, including non-recurring engineering, program support, and associated efforts required for the production and delivery. See also Dec 2/11 entry; the combined value is $188.6 million (abut A$ 185 million).
Work will be performed in Owego, NY (95%), Farmingdale, NY (4%), and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be completed in July 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-09-G-0005).
Dec 22/11: ALFS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives an $80.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy 25 AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) dipping systems for the Royal Australian Navy’s 24 MH-60R helicopters.
Thales produces the system’s sonar, which is why most work will be performed in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France (68%). Raytheon in Portsmouth, RI (32%) has the rest, and work is expected to be complete in October 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the sale on behalf of its Australian client (N00019-11-C-0077).
Dec 2/11: Avionics. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY receives an $85.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for work at both ends of the MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems and common cockpit life-cycle. It includes both long-lead materials to begin building cockpits, and “end-of-life components” so the Australians have enough of certain items to support their 24 Royal Australian Navy MH-60Rs.
Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (53%); Owego, NY (32%); Ciudad Real, Spain (5%); Victor, NY (4%); St. Charles, MO (3%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Windsor Locks, CT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be complete in March 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract, as the agent of their Foreign Military Sale client (N00019-11-C-0020).
June 16/11: Sikorsky’s MH-60R beats the NH90-NFH for Australia’s 24-helicopter, A$3+ billion (over $3.16 billion) AIR 9000, Phase 8 helicopter competition. The Commonwealth of Australia has signed the Letter of Acceptance with the US Navy, who will manage the acquisition on behalf of its Australian client under Foreign Military Sales procedures.
A subsequent GE release value the T700-401C engines and associated Total Logistics Support package at approximately $100 million.
“Team Romeo” includes Sikorsky (MH-60R) and Lockheed Martin (sensor/ weapon/ mission systems integration), plus CAE (training simulators), GE (engines), and Raytheon (sonar and sensors). The team has pledged to bring long-term industrial benefits to Australian industry valued at $1.5 billion over 10 years, which was a necessary move to compete with Eurocopter’s established in-country MRH-90 infrastructure. Australia DoD | US NAVAIR | Sikorsky | Lockheed Martin | GE | Team Romeo web site.
April 29/11: Australia completes its “full diagnostic review” of the MRH-90 program, after engine failures, transmission oil cooler fan failures and the poor availability of spares ground the fleet. To date, 13 of 46 MRH-90 helicopters have been accepted by Australia’s DoD and are being used for testing and initial crew training. They aren’t operational yet. So far, the Army helicopters are 12 months behind schedule and the Navy utility helicopters, 18 months.
The review doesn’t consign the program to the infamous “Projects of Concern” list – yet. It does ask for a remediation plan, before a follow-up diagnostic review later in 2011 looks at the project again. With the Australian naval helicopter contract looming, a good follow-on review is important to Eurocopter. Australian DoD.
March 3/11: Sikorsky signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Trakka Corp. in Melbourne, Australia. Searchlights are Trakka’s specialty, and they are integrated into a highly efficient pan and tilt gymbal, allowing slewing up to 60 degrees per second. Internal filtering allows the searchlight to choose the appropriate light spectrum for the mission, while precision optical elements and a low power light source deliver a more intense and efficient on-target beam than conventional reflector-type searchlights.
This MoU goes beyond just Australia’s naval helicopter competition. Trakka develops and manufactures aviation searchlight products in its AS9100 certified facility in Australia, but it also has operations in Scottsdale, AZ to support its U.S. customers, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard. The MoU covers H-60 Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters. Sikorsky.
Feb 25/11: Lockheed Martin has issued a Request For Information to Australian firms to supply MH-60R weapons pylons, with selections expected by the end of 2011. The RFI is issued under the auspices of a recently signed Global Supply Chain (GSC) Deed, giving Australian companies new opportunities to compete for subcontracts on a range of Lockheed Martin products and services. Lockheed Martin’s naval helicopter program head, George Barton:
“Growth in orders for the MH-60R has resulted in an urgent need for an expanded supply base, and Australian industry has a depth of capability that would be an ideal supplement to our dedicated supplier base.”
The pylons are just the 1st opportunity, and tie into the billion-dollar naval helicopter competition there, featuring the MH-60R vs. the NH90-NFH. Lockheed Martin.
Feb 2/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy a 10-year Through-Life-Support (TLS) contract for 24 MH-60R helicopters, including associated equipment & part, at an estimated cost of up to $1.6 billion. With the ADF’s MRH-90 program facing difficulties and receiving increased scrutiny, the support offer caps what amounts to a $3.7 billion maximum (A$ 3.66 billion) offer for 24 MH-60Rs, plus 10 years of support (vid. July 20/10), to set against the NH90 NFH.
The principal contractors will be Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT; Lockheed Martin of Owego, NY; GE of Lynn, Massachusetts; and the Raytheon Corporation of Portsmouth, RI. Implementation would require temporary assignment of approximately 20 U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Australia on an intermittent basis over the life of this Foreign Military Sale case.
Feb 1/11: The Australian DoD makes an announcement concerning its MRH-90s:
“Mr Smith and Mr Clare also announced that a high-level comprehensive diagnostic review of the MRH-90 helicopter project would occur this month. As reported in both the Defence Annual Report and the ANAO Major Project Report released last year, the project has suffered delays of 12 months for the Navy’s helicopters and 18 months for the Army’s helicopters. Delays are due to a series of key issues, including engine failure, transmission oil cooler fan failures and the poor availability of spares… 13 MRH-90 helicopters have been accepted by Defence to date and are currently being used for testing and initial crew training. Minister Smith said that the full diagnostic review would be supported by external specialists. It will provide recommendations to Government on the actions necessary to fully implement this important project.”
2009 – 2010
Competition announced and underway; US DSCA request.
Oct 23/10: The Australian reports on the Project AIR 9000, Phase 8 helicopter competition. A navy evaluation team reportedly test-flew the MH-60R in early October 2010, and wants to fly the NH90 NFH as well, even though its mission systems software won’t be ready until mid-2011, and the helicopter won’t be operational until late 2011 – well after Australia’s decision deadline.
The paper believes that the Navy will simply declare both helicopters capable of meeting specs, so the buy could simply come down to price in the current budget environment.
July 9/10: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy 24 MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopters, along with 60 T-700 GE 401C Engines (48 installed and 12 spares), communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and other support services.
The estimated cost is up to $2.1 billion, but that will not be settled until and unless a contract is negotiated. The prime contractors are Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (helicopter); Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY (mission systems); General Electric in Lynn, MA (engines); and Raytheon Corporation in Portsmouth, RI (sensors). Implementation of this proposed sale would require the assignment of 10 contractor representatives to Australia to support delivery of the MH-60R helicopters.
DSCA requests are not contracts, and in this case, it doesn’t even indicate intent. The MH-60R is competing against the NH90 NFH in Australia, and it isn’t unusual for countries to submit requests during competitions, in order to ensure that the American equipment has full export clearances.
April 28/10: Australia issues its formal solicitation for “AIR 9000, Phase 8″ to buy naval helicopters: either the NH90 NFH or the MH-60R, with a decision expected in 2011. Ministerial release.
Jan 6/10: Australia’s Daily Telegraph reports that Australia’s Labor Party government has rejected a DoD request to approve a $4 billion “rapid acquisition” of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, plus related equipment including training weapons, etc. The buy would have been an emergency replacement for the long-running, ill-starred, and canceled SH-2G Super Seasprite program.
Instead, successful lobbying by Eurocopter will force a competition between Sikorsky’s MH-60R, in service with the US Navy, and the European NH90 NFH variant, which is expected to be ready for service some time around 2011-2012.
Oct 23/09: The Australian reports that the country’s military chiefs have recommended the MH-60R as Australia’s next anti-submarine helicopter, citing it as a cheaper and lower risk solution compared with the NH90 NFH, with better allied interoperability. Australia would be looking to buy 24 helicopters for service by 2014, per its 2009 Defence White Paper.
Australia currently flies 16 older S-70B Seahawks that lack the full range of capabilities required, and delays to the NH90 program do add risks that aren’t present in the already-operational MH-60R. That’s particularly sensitive in light of the A$ 1+ billion SH-2G Super Seasprite fiasco; the Navy is operating none of the planned 11 SH-2G helicopters, and the Labor government who made a big issue of the Seaprite acquisition is aware that delays or overruns in the follow-on program would put them in a very bad situation.
On the other hand, Australia’s Army is standardizing on the NH90-TTH (MRH-90), and Australia has invested large sums of money in building its Eurocopter affiliations through the MRH-90 and Tiger ARH attack helicopter programs. Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin are talking about A$ 1 billion of investment in local industry if the expected A$ 4 billion deal goes through, and assure the Australians that delivery under the ongoing MH-60R program could be made by late 2011. If the US government wishes to trade some of its MH-60R production slots, that date could even move up. Which leaves Australia’s Labor Party government with a decision to make.
- Team Romeo Web Site
- DII – MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters. Full coverage of these helicopter programs, in the USA and beyond.
- DII – Fly and Listen: The AN/AQS-22 ALFS Sonar System. This dipping sonar is a critical feature of the new MH-60R. As it happens, it shares key components with the NH90 NFH’s system.
- DII – Sikorsky’s $7.4-11.6B “Multi-Year VII” H-60 Helicopter Contract. Australia’s base helicopter airframes will actually be bought under this contract’s volume pricing.
- DII – NH90: Europe’s Medium Helicopter Contender. The MH-60R’s opponent. A medium utility “MRH-90″ variant will serve as the Australian Army’s main helicopter.
- DII – Aussie Anti-Air Umbrella: The Hobart Class Ships. They’ll carry MH-60Rs.
- DII – Australia’s Canberra Class LHDs. Not slated to host MH-60Rs, but they could certainly do so in a revival of the anti-submarine escort carrier role. The question would be datalinks and other interoperability issues, in order to go beyond mere “lily pad” status.
- DID – Australia and USA Collaborating on New Small-Ship Radars. They’ll be the core of the 8 refitted ANZAC Class frigates, which will also get a helicopter upgrade in the MH-60R.
- DID – Australia’s Hazardous Frigate Upgrade. The project to upgrade its FFG-7 frigates didn’t go well, but it was finished. Left hanging: what helicopters will they carry now?
- DID – Australia’s Ill-Starred SH-2G Seasprite Project. Canceled, after an A$ 667 million deal for 11 refitted helicopters turned into over A$ 1.1 billion for 11 helicopters, which were years late and deemed not yet ready for service by the RAN. It’s even more interesting that New Zealand is still flying its SH-2Gs as its main naval helicopter.