The U.S. Navy hands over two Seahawk Romeo helicopters to the Royal Australian Navy. Our Elyse Mickalonis has more on the big ceremony and why some are saying the move has made the partnership between the two forces even stronger.
OWEGO, N.Y. -- It's the first international sale of its kind.
"It is an honor to provide the royal Australian navy their first MH-60. And we are very fortunate the contract with Australia is for 24 aircraft,” said Tom Kane, Lockheed Martin Director of Naval Helicopter Programs.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Navy presented the Royal Australian Navy with the first two of 24 MH-60R helicopters. Up until now, Seahawk Romeos have only been used by the U.S. military.
"One of the good things about having an aircraft the same as the U.S. Navy is that it makes our partnership even better. We have a Long history of working with the U.S. Navy,” said RADM Tony Dalton, Royal Australian Navy.
The choppers were manufactured by Sikorsky aircraft and have advanced mission systems and sensors by Lockheed Martin. Officials say the anti-submarine and anti-surface capabilities of these helicopters will give the Royal Australian Navy the upper hand over submarines, a big advantage in maritime security.
"The aircraft will bring with it a capability that we haven't seen before, but it's all about how we integrate with the ships. This aircraft works very, very nicely with those ships. The aircraft has numerous sensors and systems and when employed correctly it will be that game changer that we discussed,” said Commander David Frost, Royal Australian Navy 725th Squadron.
Although the helicopters will mainly be used for maritime security, they're also capable of search and rescue missions, medical evacuations and more. Recently they were used for humanitarian work when typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines.
"The acoustics part you'd use for anti-submarine warfare those parts come out so you can increase your cabin space an do another mission, such as humanitarian relief or even utility transport. It's really a versatile aircraft,” said Commander A.C. Lynch, U.S. Navy.
The Royal Australian Navy is set to receive all 24 helicopters by the end of 2016.
The helicopters will be used for training after flying off to Jacksonville from Owego Wednesday at 10 a.m.