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Australian Navy's 816 Squadron enhances RFS air attack capability


The Royal Australian Navy’s MH-60R Seahawk helicopters’ superior Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) cameras and sensors have been working throughout the nights to support firefighting efforts across New South Wales.


Australian Navys 816 Squadron enhances RFS air attack capability 925 001 A Royal Australian Navy Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopter (Picture source: Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)


Each night, soon after dusk, the aircrew are joined by RFS specialists flying over fire grounds to assess and map current fire movements.

The two aircraft have been flying from 7 pm each night until 5 am the next morning.

RFS Air Attack Supervisors Mr Peter Sergeant from Cameron Park Brigade, near Newcastle and Mr Jason Conn from Orana District, near Dubbo recently joined 816 Squadron aircrew for night flying operations.

The MH-60R, affectionately known as the Romeo, is the Navy’s next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter but readily adapts to support a variety of missions including Search and Rescue, Utility and Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief operations.

The MH-60R is designed to combine the features of the SH-60B and SH-60F. Its sensors include the ASE package, MTS-FLIR, the AN/APS-147 multi-mode radar/IFF interrogator, an advanced airborne fleet data link, and a more advanced airborne active low-frequency sonar (ALFS). Pilot instrumentation is based on a fully integrated glass cockpit, using several digital monitors. Offensive capabilities are improved by the addition of new Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles.

During a mid-life technology insertion project, the MH-60R fleet shall be fitted with the AN/APS-153 Multi-Mode Radar with Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) capability.

816 Squadron Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Commander Tim Craig explains how the squadron assets are operating in conjunction with RFS specialists to contribute to the wider mission.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is working with Emergency Management Australia to support the firefighting efforts in New South Wales and Queensland.