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MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition

Discussion in 'Modern Warfare' started by MAFIAN GOD, Jun 18, 2011.

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  1. MAFIAN GOD

    MAFIAN GOD Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition

    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 competitors were familiar, and represent 2 of the 3 non-Russian full-capability naval helicopters on the market. Both had roots in Australia. Sikorsky’s MH-60R is a modernized descendant of the RAN’s S-70Bs, and different S-70As are also operated by Australia’s army. On the other hand, the Army had chosen the NH90-TTH (“MRH-90â€) as its future helicopter several years ago, in a multi-billion dollar order. Some MRH-90s will even serve as Navy utility helicopters, and NHI/Eurocopter’s NH90-NFH naval variant offered to build on that. So, how did the competition go – and why did the MH-60R make Australia its 1st export win?

    June 16/11: The MH-60R beats the NH90-NFH for Australia’s 24-helicopter, A$3+ billion (over $3.16 billion) AIR 9000, Phase 8 helicopter competition. A combination of problems with its “MRH-90s,†slow NH90 TTH development, MH-60R naval interoperability benefits, and the MH-60R’s low-risk operational status tipped the balance. 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.

    The 24 MH-60Rs will now replace Australia’s 16 existing S-70B-2 naval helicopters on Australian ships, and may effectively replace the disastrous SH-2G “Super Seasprite†acquisition as well. The first 2 MH-60Rs will arrive in mid-2014 for testing and evaluation, with mid-2015 the target for operational status. Australia’s DoD states that the fleet of 24 will:

    â€...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.â€

    This does leave the question of what to do with the Adelaide Class FFG-7 frigates. Note that warships aren’t all at sea at one time, just as helicopters are not. There’s a regular cycle of maintenance and training, as well as deployments. “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.

    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, and 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.

    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.â€

    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.

    Feb 2/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces 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.â€

    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 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. .

    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.

    MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition
     
  2. MAFIAN GOD

    MAFIAN GOD Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    NH-90 and MH-60R are the two helicopters which are in Indian Navy's multirole helicopter competition.
    Above article states that NH-90 has few problems like engine failure,cooling fan blade failure.
    Also it is smaller than MH-60R but over-priced.
    MH-60R is operational in few Navies around the world while NH-90 is still in development phase.
     
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