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Australian MH-60R Seahawk helo tests Hellfire missile

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The RAN's MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo' helicopter test-fires the 'Hellfire' missile in Florida, US. An Australian DoD photo

CANBERRA (BNS): The Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) new MH-60R Seahawk 'Romeo' maritime combat helicopter has successfully test-fired a Hellfire air-to-surface missile in the United States recently.

The AGM-114 Hellfire missile was fired by Navy's 725 Squadron from aircraft currently deployed to the US Navy's Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre off the Florida coast on July 26, the Australian Department of Defence announced.

"(The) Navy's next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter will be the cornerstone of our working Navy's aviation combat capability. The new aircraft's multi-mission and multi-target precision strike capabilities will increase our versatility and potency as a high-end fighting force," Commander Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer said.

Australia has placed order for 24 of the Sikorsky-built MH-60R Seahawk Romeo helicopters under the AIR 9000 Phase 8 project to replace its Navy's current 16 S-70B-2 Seahawk Classic helicopters.

The new submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopters are being procured at a cost of AUD3.2 billion.

The first two choppers were delivered to it in December 2013 followed by two more in February 2014.

All the four aircraft are presently being operated by Navy's 725 Squadron alongside three US Navy Seahawk Romeo squadrons based out of the US Navy's Jacksonville air station in Florida.

Ultimately, two Seahawk Romeo squadrons will be home based at the RAN's Nowra, New South Wales, air station, with 725 Squadron conducting Seahawk Romeo training and 816 Squadron flying the Seahawk Romeo from the Navy's ANZAC Class frigates and the new Hobart Class destroyers.

A further two MH-60R are set to be delivered in October 2014. Deliveries will continue during 2015 with the 24th and final aircraft being delivered in 2016, the DoD said.

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