Lockheed delivers helicopters in $3B contract (with photos)

By Erika Mahoney

December 10, 2013 Updated Dec 10, 2013 at 6:19 PM EST

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Lockheed Martin and the United States Navy made a big delivery Tuesday to Australia.

The Royal Australian Navy received two MH-60R helicopters.

A ceremony to mark the first international transaction of the aircraft had hundreds of eyes on the impressive military chopper.

"This aircraft is for the new generation," Commander David Frost of the Royal Australian Navy said.

Just over two years ago, the navies entered into a $3 billion contract to get the revolutionary helicopters.

The contract involves the acquisition of 24 MH-60Rs and a seven-year support plan.

Sikorsky Aircraft manufactures the helicopters and Lockheed Martin installs the mission systems.

According to Lockheed Director of Naval Helicopter Programs Tom Kane, about 600 employees worked on each chopper.

"We have multi-year contracts with the U.S. Navy for the next several years and there's several countries that are very interested in purchasing this aircraft as well," Kane said. "So, we are very optimistic about our future."

He said the world is noticing the deal and that Denmark is next on the list to receive some of the helicopters.

As the contract boosts the local job economy, it's also cementing the relationship between the U.S. and Australia.

"The U.S. Navy is a key part in the way we operate down in the southern end of the world, which is a long, long way away from Owego," Rear Admiral Tony Dalton of the Royal Australian Navy said.

Dalton said the land down under hasn't had an advanced anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare helicopter for some time.

"Its role is to hunt out submarines and other surface combatants that might not be friendly," Dalton said.

The helicopter can also be used to aid in humanitarian relief.
The U.S. Navy recently used them to deliver supplies to people affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Both navies have been training together in Jacksonville, Florida.

"Not only are the helicopters ready today, but the Australian crews have been trained at the U.S. training squadron," Commander AC Lynch of the U.S. Navy said. "All those people are making friendships and bonds and building on this relationship between the US and Australia."

The RH-60Rs will take off from Lockheed Wednesday morning. They will fly to Jacksonville for more training.

The total 24 fleet is set to be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy by the end of 2016.