Helicopter Systems Division

Helicopter Systems Division provides through-life support to ten rotary wing weapon systems through an Aviation System Program Office based at Nowra for Navy aviation and another based at Oakey for Army aviation. They provide fleet-wide engineering, repair parts, contract management for deeper level maintenance and replacement of ageing and obsolescent aircraft equipment.

The sustainment tasks are driven by operational unit requirements such as the Black Hawk Squadron's support to special operations, and deployments such as the Seahawk in the Middle East, Chinooks to Afghanistan and continued requirements for unmanned aerial vehicles operations in Afghanistan. The introduction of the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) and delivery of the first two Multi-Role Helicopters (MRH-90) generated the need to establish logistics management capabilities in Brisbane to support sustainment of those products.

Achievements

Challenges

S-70B-2 Seahawk

The Navy aviation fleet includes 16 Seahawk helicopters whose primary role is frigate-based anti-submarine warfare. During 2007-08, they continued to be deployed to guided missile frigates and Anzac class frigates on task rotation to provide maritime surveillance and force protection to ADF and coalition forces on Operation Catalyst. To offset the lack of a Seasprite capability, some additional funding has been transferred to increase Seahawk availability.

S-70A-9 Black Hawk

Photo of Black HawkThe high operational deployment of US Army Black Hawks has significantly extended the turnaround times on overseas repair and overhaul of components. In conjunction with increased difficulty in supporting the obsolete systems, this has increased the cost of sustaining the Black Hawk fleet, which has, in turn, necessitated examination of options to achieve the Black Hawk planned withdrawal date. Options, including making a life-of-type purchase of spares, are being examined.

SH-2G(A) Super Seasprite

Seasprite flying operations were suspended for much of 2007-08 and the project was cancelled in March 2008. Logistic management capacity had to be maintained throughout the year and a small team will be needed to continue until disposal is complete. Approximately $30m worth of common spares have been re-assigned to other weapon systems and $10m of allocated annual Seasprite sustainment funding has been re-directed to Seahawk aircraft to increase their operational availability. Because some spares common to other aircraft were being procured through Seasprite sustainment, approximately $2m per year will need to be retained from the Seasprite allocation with the remaining funds returned to Defence.