By Lt. Mark Flowerdew
RAN 725 Squadron Public Affairs
Delivery of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) MH-60R Seahawk "Romeo" capability took another step forward March 6, with the arrival of aircraft three and four at NAS Jacksonville.
Crewed by joint RAN and U.S. Navy aircrews, the new aircraft departed the Lockheed Martin Assembly Plant in Owego, New York and made the long journey south where they were warmly greeted by RAN 725 Squadron personnel.
"It's great to welcome two new aircraft to the RAN family. We can't wait to introduce them to Jacksonville and later in the year, to the Fleet Air Arm back in Australia," said RAN 725 Squadron Commanding Officer Cmdr. David Frost.
"So far, we've flown more than 100 hours in aircrafts one and two, and we look forward to having the new kids on the block taking some of the load," said Frost.
Another bunch of aviation maintainers and aircrew also arrived at NAS Jacksonville recently, bringing the total number of Fleet Air Arm personnel to 95, with the final eight aircrew due to arrive over the next few months.
Maintenance technicians will continue to undergo training at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU), at NAS Jacksonville, while aircrew will be trained by Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40), at Naval Station Mayport.
Complementing the new Romeos was the arrival of a maintenance training device dubbed the "BROMEO," that Frost said would be used by maintenance sailors to conduct task book and journal progression.
"The Bromeo is a complete, functioning aircraft that will be used to train sailors who are undergoing initial trade training at RAN 725 Squadron. It will also be used to conduct annual escape training and Operational Flying Training ground familiarisation events."
"Finding opportunities to get hands-on training on in-service aircraft can be challenging due to flying and operational commitments, so having the Bromeo will expedite training that will be more cost effective," explained Frost.
Although it will not return to flying status, the Bromeo will be painted in Royal Australian Navy colors and will be subject to the airworthiness and maintenance requirements that the fleet of new MH-60R aircraft are required to meet.
The Bromeo is built from an SH-60B (Bravo) helicopter airframe, similar to those operated by RAN 816 Squadron. It was re-manufactured into an MH-60R as a prototype, prior to the final design decision by the U.S. Navy.
The airframe was resurrected from the U.S. Navy's Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Centre (AMARC), otherwise known as the 'Boneyard,' where it was selected from retired Bromeo airframes.
Select RAN personnel, the Bromeo, and five Romeos will return to Australia in late 2014 to form part of the MH-60R schoolhouse, currently under construction at HMAS Albatross.