The Australian government recently announced a multi-year In Service Support contract to BAE Systems Australia Ltd., covering the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of 16 S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters. Australia’s naval S-70s contain features from the US Navy’s SH-60B and SH-60F Seahawks, and were delivered from 1988-1992. The new 7-year, A$ 208 million (currently $187 million) support contract begins in April 2010, and is expected to run until existing Seahawks are withdrawn from service. Extension options could lengthen that period, however; and there have been recent reports that the Australian DoD is recommending Sikorsky’s new MH-60R Seahawk as a successor, rather than Eurocopter’s NH90 NFH variant of the Australian Army’s new transport helicopters.
BAE’s ISS contract will provide engineering, maintenance, and some supply services. It’s expected to support 130 jobs in new expanded facilities at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park, located near the S-70B fleet’s base at HMAS Abatross in Nowra, New South Wales, as well as securing a number of industry positions in Nowra, Melbourne and Amberley. See also BAE Australia release.