NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – In a significant milestone, the U.S. and Royal Australian Navies have successfully demonstrated a periodic maintenance interval (PMI) on a U.S. Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopter in Australia. This accomplishment highlights the commitment of both countries to enhance military readiness in the Indo-Pacific region.

The H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopter Program’s (PMA-299) Special Projects Team developed a unique acquisition strategy that leveraged the strong alliance between the U.S. and Australia to complete the first-ever U.S. Navy aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) in the Indo-Pacific region. Addressing emergent MRO requirements outside of normal domestic sites is crucial for maintaining readiness. Expanding the MH-60R MRO facilities and infrastructure globally, especially in the current world climate, can achieve a wider maintenance reach in times of conflict while fostering cooperation with allies.

The U.S. and Australia have continued their 100-year partnership to advance readiness in the Indo-Pacific region – an operationally critical region – by completing the first-ever periodic maintenance interval on a United States Navy MH-60R Seahawk in Australia.

According to Capt. William Hargreaves, PMA-299 program manager, “Demonstrating successful PMI on a U.S. Navy MH-60R in Australia is a testament to our two nations’ shared trust and commitments in our century-long partnership with the Royal Australian Navy. Achieving this maintenance event expands our aircraft’s footprint, ensuring the fleet is ready to fight tonight.”

The U.S. and Australian forces have a long history of fighting together, starting from World War I. Both countries further strengthen their “mateship” connection by agreeing on maintenance and inspection.

Twelve years ago, PMA-299 and the Royal Australian Navy joined forces in a foreign military sale for MH-60 Romeo helicopters, further solidifying their partnership.

The PMI on the MH-60R Seahawk was initiated by Sikorsky Aircraft Australia Limited (SAAL), a subcontractor to Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems, in late October 2022 in Australia. The maintenance was completed in two months, which was well under the projected 10-month timeline. The PMI included material acceptance and inspection, repairs, and an aircraft functional check flight. Post-PMI flight checks will be conducted after the helicopter arrives at Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41, the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) in San Diego, CA.

Commodore Darren Rae, Royal Australian Navy Director General Navy Aviation, Aircrew Training, and Commons, stated, “The principal aim of this activity was to demonstrate to the U.S. the capability of Australian industry and the pathway available to perform maintenance, repair, and overhaul of this helicopter in our region. This demonstration of Australian industry’s support to U.S. Navy helicopter maintenance is a hallmark for the steady progress being made in the U.S.-Australian Alliance.”

Strengthening partnerships and ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region is critical to the security of the United States and its allies. Collaborative efforts like this one help defend common interests.

Capt. Hargreaves remarked, “We have made strides in this PMI demonstration. If necessary, We can rapidly address emergent MRO requirements outside of standard activity sites during contingency operations.”

The successful PMI, which relied on innovative acquisition strategies and contract execution, received the NAVAIR Commander’s Award in May 2023 and an Australian Day Honours Award in January 2023.

The NAVAIR Commander’s Awards recognize outstanding teams and individuals across NAVAIR who have demonstrated creativity, agility, and accountability in delivering the capability the fleet needs on time and at an affordable price.

Hargreaves acknowledged his team’s achievement: “Winning the NAVAIR Commander’s Award for this effort truly validated the team’s efforts to strengthen ties between the two countries further and entrust them to complete the PMI as if on U.S. soil.”

Commander Andrew Newman, Australia’s former MH-60R Seahawk Romeo Helicopter Assurance Program Co-Lead, was also recognized for his outstanding achievements and dedication to pursuing this activity. He was presented with an Australia Day Honours Award in January 2023, receiving a Conspicuous Service Cross.

PMA-299, responsible for providing full-spectrum worldwide support for the U.S. Navy’s and international partners’ MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters and user communities, plays a vital role in maintaining these aircraft. The MH-60R Seahawk is an essential submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, enabling the U.S. Navy’s anti-submarine and surface warfare operations.

The successful PMI conducted in Australia opens the possibility for additional maintenance activities in the future. Once the aircraft returns to the U.S., the U.S. Navy will review all after-action reports to assess the potential for future contract agreements.

The collaboration between the U.S. and Royal Australian Navies in conducting maintenance on the MH-60R Seahawk in Australia signifies the strength of their alliance and mutual commitment to military readiness. By expanding maintenance capabilities beyond domestic sites, both countries enhance their capacity to respond to emergent MRO requirements and bolster cooperation with allies. This achievement demonstrates the Australian industry’s capabilities and strengthens the bonds between the two nations. The successful PMI is a testament to the enduring partnership between the U.S. and Australia in ensuring a free and secure Indo-Pacific region.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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