A multi-million dollar naval helicopter has been extensively damaged on its way to the Middle East.
It is understood the MH-60 Romeo Seahawk from 725 Squadron at HMAS Albatross was damaged onboard HMAS Warramunga on its way to Perth before heading to the Gulf.
It is believed the helicopter may have broken free of its lashing in an hangar area, half way across the Great Australian Bight in rough conditions.
It is understood the helicopter “bounced” around the hangar area, causing significant damage, with one of three sources who spoke to the Register saying the helicopter might be “a write-off”.
Other reports suggest the aircraft has suffered millions of dollars worth of damage.
It is understood no one was injured in the incident.
The Register has been told the aircraft was replaced to allow Warramunga, an Anzac Class Frigate Helicopter (FFH), capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction, to continue to the Middle East.
Defence was contacted for comment over the alleged incident but is yet to respond.
The Australian Government approved the acquisition of 24 MH-60R Seahawk Romeo naval combat helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion.
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The Romeo, replacing the S-70B-2 Seahawk helicopters, is seen as the future of naval aviation. It is equipped with a highly sophisticated combat systems designed to employ Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo.
The Romeo’s primary mission is anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare but also has the ability to undertake search and rescue, logistics support, personnel transport and medical evacuation.
The helicopters are largely military off-the-shelf built by Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin and were acquired through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process from the US Navy.
The final of the 24 helicopters arrived at Nowra’s HMAS Albatross in September 2016, providing navy the capacity to equip at least eight warships with a combat helicopter at the same time.
The remainder are based at Albatross with 725 Squadron which was recommissioned in 2015.
As well as Anzac Class frigates, the Romeos can also be deployed on the new Air Warfare Destroyers.
MH-60 Romeo Seahawk at a glance
- Type: Anti-submarine/Anti-surface/Search and Rescue helicopter
- Manufacturer: Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin
- Origin: USA
- Number ordered: 24
- First delivered: 2013
- Last delivered: 2016
- Speed: 180 knots
- Range: 245 nautical miles
- Crew: 4
- Engines: 2 x General Electric T700-GE-401
- Weapon systems: AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles; Mark 54 anti-submarine torpedo
- Operated by: 725 Squadron HMAS Albatross