Lockheed Martin won a $12.9 million delivery order
, which provides for the production and delivery of 62 Audio Management Computer-Lite computers to be used as spares in the MH-60R Seahawk
helicopter in support of the Naval Supply Systems Command, the government Australia and Saudi Arabia and to support the development of the Operation Test Program Set for the Navy. Additionally, this order provides for the production and delivery of 33 flight management computers for installation on the Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopter and 50 SP-103E circuit cards for retrofit computer upgrades. MH-60R Seahawk is a multi-mission helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. It is considered to be the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter. The helicopter is equipped for a range of missions, including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW), search-and-rescue (SAR), naval gunfire support (NGFS), surveillance, communications relay, logistics support and personnel transfer, and vertical replenishment. Work will take place in New York and expected completion will be by August 2023.
Australia’s AIR 9000, Phase 8 project aimed to buy 24 modern naval helicopters to 16 existing S-70B-2 Seahawks, along with the disastrous A$1.1 billion, 11-helicopter SH-2G “Super Seasprite” acquisition attempt. With a total sales and support value of over A$ 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-70B 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, and some MRH-90s will even serve as Navy utility helicopters. NHI/Eurocopter’s NH90-NFH naval variant builds on that base. So why did the MH-60R make Australia its 1st export win?