DESPITE challengingCOVID-19 lockdowns,Sikorsky Australia has continued to maintain a high sustainment rate and has grown its workforce, supporting the operational readiness of the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) fleet of MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
Based at the Albatross Aviation Technology Park, adjacent to HMAS Albatross at Nowra Hill, Sikorsky Australia, a Lockheed Martin company, has achieved a number of highlights in 2021.
Sikorsky Australia's workforce grew to 195, with 14 new employees who continued to perform maintenance on the Seahawks each month despite lockdown restrictions, ensuring peak flight readiness of the MH-60R for maritime missions.
Workers delivered a continued comprehensive sustainment of the depot level servicing line for the MH-60R with all scheduled deeper maintenance events completed in 2021.
A highlight of that support included the first of the complex modifications to add a significant avionics upgrade to the fleet.
In May it was announced Sikorsky Australia had been awarded a $10 million contract by the United States Navy to provide additional support to the RAN's fleet of Romeo helicopters.
More than $450,000 of component maintenance and repair work was distributed to local small to medium enterprises (SMEs), adding to Sikorsky Australia's sovereign $64m economic impact in the Shoalhaven region since 2019.
There was also a 25 per cent increase of strategic sustainment logistics fleet support for the Seahawks to support of the RAN's operational requirements.
More than 50 Sikorsky Australia aviation technicians completed comprehensive training, familiarisation and quality assurance courses on MH-60R sustainment since achieving Aircraft Maintenance Training Organisation accreditation through the Defence Aviation Safety Authority in November 2020.
The Sikorsky Australia workforce in Nowra increased by 14 roles growing to 195, with a further four apprentices and trainees being onboarded this year, bringing the total apprenticeship-trainee cohort to 14 to grow future aviation capability.
Sikorsky Australia General Manager Malcolm Wright said the company is committed to nurturing local talent in the Shoalhaven.
"We are one hundred per cent committed to nurturing local talent in the Shoalhaven region by providing exciting career opportunities to develop advanced skills in aircraft maintenance to boost Australia's sovereign defence capabilities," he said.
Critical to the overall sustainment effort is the deepening and expanding sustainment partnership between Sikorsky Australia and the RAN, the company will embed 10 aviation technicians within the RAN’s MH-60R Seahawk 725 and 816 squadrons at HMAS Albatross until December 2024.
Critical to the overall sustainment effort is the deepening and expanding sustainment partnership between Sikorsky Australia and the RAN, the company will embed 10 aviation technicians within the RAN's MH-60R Seahawk 725 and 816 squadrons at HMAS Albatross until December 2024.
While embedded in the RAN squadrons, the Sikorsky Australia aviation technicians will conduct specialised activities such as deeper level component repair, complex airframe repairs, advanced avionics repairs and fault finding.
Unique skills the Sikorsky Australia team bring from the deeper level servicing line at the maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Nowra.
"The deepening of the through-life-sustainment partnership with the RAN demonstrates Australia's sustainable sovereign industrial capability in action," Mr Wright said.
"Our Sikorsky Australia aviation technicians are working hand-in-glove with the RAN to further integrate aviation skills and expertise across the team.
"The reciprocal knowledge transfer will further increase with Sikorsky Australia aviation technicians being embedded with the RAN's MH-60R Seahawk Squadrons.
"It provides a great opportunity to further harness sovereign aviation sustainment skills and grow them through genuine collaboration on the maintenance of the MH-60R Seahawks.
"Ultimately, the expanded partnership strengthens the overall platform knowledge within the MH-60R enterprise in Australia, therefore enhancing the RAN's ability to protect Australia."