Lockheed Martin has issued a request for information to Australian firms to supply weapons pylons for the Sikorsky MH-60R multi-mission naval helicopter.
"Growth in orders for the MH-60R has resulted in an urgent need for an expanded supply base, and Australian industry has a depth of capability that would be an ideal supplement to our dedicated supplier base," says George Barton, Lockheed Martin's naval helicopter programme head.
The pylons are located on either side of the helicopter and carry either missiles or torpedoes. The selection process is likely to be concluded by the end of 2011, says Lockheed.
The MH-60R is competing against the NH Industries NH90 to fill a 24-helicopter requirement for the Royal Australian Navy, under Proect Air 9000 Phase 8. Lockheed and Sikorsky submitted their original proposal for the competition in July last year, at which time they said a decision was likely to be announced in the first quarter of 2011.
The MH-60R is being pitched by 'Team Romeo', which comprises Lockheed, Sikorsky, General Electric, Raytheon and CAE.
Separately, in early February the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible military sale to Australia of a 10-year, $1.6 billion through-life support programme for the MH-60R, including helicopters, parts, and logistics support.