The US has approved a nearly $1 billion sale of 12 Sikorsky MH-60R Black Hawk helicopters to Australia, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters, Related Defense Services, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $985 million,” the DSCA said in a press release on Friday.
The agency has delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale, the release said.
“The government of Australia has requested to buy twelve MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters; 30 T-700-GE-401C engines; twelve APS-153(V) Multi-Mode Radars [and] twelve AN/AAS-44C(V) Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems,” the release said.
The deal also includes 34 embedded Global Positioning System/Precise Positioning Service inertial navigation systems with selective availability and anti-spoofing module and 20 Link 16 multifunctional information distribution systems – joint tactical radio system, the release said.
Australia will also buy in the same package 12 GAU-61 digital rocket launchers, 12 airborne low-frequency sonars, 18 AN/AAR-47 missile warning systems, 18 AN/ALE-47 chaff and flare dispensers, electronic countermeasures and other equipment, the release added.
The proposed sale will improve Australia’s capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay, according to the release.
MH-60R Romeo is a multi-mission helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft. It is acknowledged as one of the world’s most advanced marine choppers.
The MH-60R can be deployed for a spectrum of purposes, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search-and-rescue, naval gunfire support, surveillance, communications relay, logistics support and personnel transfer, and vertical replenishment.
The chopper is outfitted with a 2,721.55kg cargo hook for vertical replenishment missions. For anti-surface warfare missions, the Romeo can be furnished with a variety of munitions on the four weapons stations, including AGM-114 Hellfire anti-surface missiles.
For anti-submarine warfare, the MH-60R can carry up to three ATK mk50 or mk46 active /passive lightweight torpedoes. A pintle-mounted 7.62mm machine gun can be used for self-defense.
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia declared the formation of AUKUS as a platform for defense and security cooperation. The announcement came as Australia withdrew from a $66 billion agreement on the purchase of submarines from France in favor of a new contract with the UK and the US. France described the move as a betrayal of trust between the countries.