Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) hosted representatives from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Program Manager Air (PMA) 299 and members of the Spanish navy for the annual SH-60B and SH-60F helicopter program management review (PMR) at the military depot May 13-15.
The PMR allowed Spanish naval officers the opportunity to meet FRCSE artisans currently refurbishing two SH-60F helicopters and view the aircraft they are purchasing through the Foreign Military Sales program.
The aircraft were transported via truck to the military depot in July 2013 from the Air Force Materiel Command’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz.
“The U.S. Navy and PMA-299 have had a relationship with the Spanish navy for 25 years helping support their helicopters,” said Cmdr. Andrew Lynch, deputy program manager, H-60 International Programs. “This program is a joint team effort. We are selling these aircraft packages with the support of FRCSE. FRCSE artisans are refurbishing the aircraft after being in the desert for several years.”
The PMR focused on action items, such as financial issues, case status of the two aircraft, an integrated master schedule, parts procurement, replacement and improvements, follow-on support and future goals.
“This is the first time the Spanish navy PMR has been held here,” said FRCSE AIR-6.6F Logistics Management Specialist Rob Miller. “By hosting the group here, it allowed them to see our capability with the helicopters and to view their two aircraft currently going through the overhaul process. They also met with the artisans to discuss concerns and the configuration of the aircraft.”
“These aircraft haven’t been flown since 2009,” explained FRCSE Vertical Lift Integrated Product Team Manager Terry Beechum. “They have been sitting in the desert for years. We’ve completely stripped the aircraft, evaluated the structural carcass and replaced 99 percent of the hydraulic lines, fittings and components.”
Once the aircraft is operational, it will go to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 11 (HS-11) at Naval Air Station Jacksonville for the ground check and functional check phase. Upon completion of the testing, the aircraft will go to a commercial company in Alabama for modification required by the Spanish navy.
The group also visited HS-11 to talk to the aircrew on the differences between the SH-60F and the SH-60B aircraft that they are currently operating.
“We’ve had the chance to take a look at the helicopters here and got the impression that they are doing a magnificent job,” stated Spanish Navy Capt. Agustin Rodriguez-Carreño de Cominges, head of aircraft section, Logistics Support Command, Rota, Spain. “It is unusual for us to come to the United States for a meeting like this, but it was very beneficial to visit FRCSE and focus on the issues of this project. We hope to have our first two helicopters modified for maritime tactical detachments in December 2015.”
According to Miller, the PMR was a huge success. “During the closing remarks, Capt. Rodriguez-Carreño de Cominges stated that he was very impressed with the overall knowledge and skill level of the artisans working on the Spanish helicopters. The Spanish navy representatives have been very concerned about this program, and I think that by coming here, seeing their aircraft, and talking to us, showed them the direction this program is moving. They were very pleased.”
The Foreign Military Sales program offers several other benefits to the foreign customer.
“The advantage is that not only are we selling the aircraft, but they get FRCSE engineering and supply support benefits as well,” said Lynch. “And there’s the benefit that they are flying SH-60s and we’re flying them which makes us interoperable with their Navy. It’s a win-win for both sides.”
The Spanish SH-60F is a multi-mission helicopter used to improve the Spanish navy’s ability to perform humanitarian missions, search and rescue, medical evacuations, firefighting and anti-piracy efforts.
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