Royal New Zealand Navy Discussions and Updates

ngatimozart

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Staff member
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It will be interesting to see which option the ROK navy selects for 12 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters under its Maritime Operations Helicopter competition. The AW159, MH60R and the NH90 NFH will all be competing I would think.
Yep, the latest is that competition was restarted late in 2018 after Lockheed and NHI failed to submit their bids in time for the 14/11/2018 cut off. As of yet there appears to be no decision due to the COVID-19 virus.

 

chis73

Active Member
I don't have a problem with a Wildcat. It's still a very capable maritime helo (perhaps it may be the best option for our rough sea conditions if we still won't be using some form of haul-down system in future). Agree that by the time anyone in NZG makes a decision it may not be available (2027 is a long way off, and there hasn't been any new orders for a while now)

A couple of things that I noted that weren't mentioned in the article but probably should have been:
1. No mention of the Airbus H160M (to be fair, it isn't scheduled to enter service with the Marine Nationale till 2028)
2. The RAN seem to be intending to replace their 6 NH90s (MRH90) around 2025, citing the logistics issues (in a ADBR article - here) of maintaining a small separate fleet of helicopters at sea. So that doesn't help the NH90's chances in NZ. The RAN appear to be favouring some form of MH-60 variant (to solve the aforementioned logistics issues) - although the MH-60S is now out of production.
3. Nine helos only realistically provides 3 operational at sea at any one time. How many aviation-capable ships will we have again?

What the article does highlight though is the confused messaging coming from the RNZN/MOD. So they appear to want exactly 9 new helicopters (presumably of only one type), that have to operate on all aviation-capable vessels in the RNZN fleet (including the small OPVs). That's a problem. As Greener notes, most of the options won't fit on the OPV, yet a small helicopter won't be ideal for the utility roles on the larger vessels (such as Canterbury & Aotearoa). I still think we need two types - I'd go with a small (6t) ASuW/ASW helo for frigates & OPVs, with a marinized 10t-11t dumb utility helo for the bigger ships. Doubt that will ever happen though.
 

ngatimozart

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@chis73 I agree with you on a 2 type RNZN helo fleet. However the mix of those 2 types is somewhat subjective and debatable. I would see it as a combat / logistics mix and it could be based on the Sikorsky S-70i which would give us a modern variant of both the Romeo and the Sierra.
 

chis73

Active Member
After mulling it over, I offer two preferred courses of action Ngati:

1. Your idea of a mixed MH-60 fleet (provided one can get a fully marinized S-70i?). Allows us to link into the US & Australian naval logistics trains. But requires buying 9 new large helicopters (and MH-60R in particular isn't cheap) with little or no commonality with the current RNZAF helo fleet (and creating some double up). OPVs will just have to go without a helo until the ships are replaced (or try to use AW109). They rarely deploy with a Seasprite, so maybe no great loss. Also potentially requires a change in the landing systems on RNZN ships

2. Buy 3 NH90 MTT (MITT, MTTH, or whatever it is being called this week - ie. the fully-marinized TTH version the Italians have developed, but with Turbomeca engines instead of the T700). Fitted with a harpoon system. Set these up as a detachment operated by the Navy out of Whenuapai (or if absolutely necessary Ohakea) Serviced by RNZAF at Ohakea. Primary role is to provide 1-2 large utility helos to Aotearoa and/or Canterbury. Institute a programme to slowly upgrade the existing RNZAF NH90s to this MTT standard (except perhaps FFBNW the harpoon system). This makes best use out of what we already have. When Canterbury deploys, RNZAF NH90s go with her to make up the numbers. Then buy say six small ASW/ASuW helos for the frigates/OPVs - preferably Wildcat, but perhaps H160M if Wildcat no longer available. This should keep the capital cost lower than Option1 above, and also keep operating costs lower too. Frigates get first option on the small helos, OPVs get one if there is one available.

Thoughts?
 

At lakes

Active Member
Airbus Helicopters continues the militarisation of the H160 and its support framework



Airbus announced that they are bringing the start of the HIL H160M programme forward commencing in 2021 and deliveries to the Military should be commencing in or about 2026.

Probably too late for consideration for the RNZN as a replacement for the SH2G, no one, in particular a small Navy like RNZN, wants to be at the head of the production run for a new type in case of issues with the aircraft it becomes a little expensive. It’s a smart looking machine though

I must agree with ngati’s comment in #7823 that the S70i should be considered for the larger vessels in the Navy and for the OPV buy several i.e. 3 Aw109M optimized for the operations at sea and if necessary buy the clip-on weapons wings for them. 6 S70i and 3 Aw109M(N). Fixed

Edit: I tried adding a photo of the HIL H160M but it disappeared.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
After mulling it over, I offer two preferred courses of action Ngati:

1. Your idea of a mixed MH-60 fleet (provided one can get a fully marinized S-70i?). Allows us to link into the US & Australian naval logistics trains. But requires buying 9 new large helicopters (and MH-60R in particular isn't cheap) with little or no commonality with the current RNZAF helo fleet (and creating some double up). OPVs will just have to go without a helo until the ships are replaced (or try to use AW109). They rarely deploy with a Seasprite, so maybe no great loss. Also potentially requires a change in the landing systems on RNZN ships

2. Buy 3 NH90 MTT (MITT, MTTH, or whatever it is being called this week - ie. the fully-marinized TTH version the Italians have developed, but with Turbomeca engines instead of the T700). Fitted with a harpoon system. Set these up as a detachment operated by the Navy out of Whenuapai (or if absolutely necessary Ohakea) Serviced by RNZAF at Ohakea. Primary role is to provide 1-2 large utility helos to Aotearoa and/or Canterbury. Institute a programme to slowly upgrade the existing RNZAF NH90s to this MTT standard (except perhaps FFBNW the harpoon system). This makes best use out of what we already have. When Canterbury deploys, RNZAF NH90s go with her to make up the numbers. Then buy say six small ASW/ASuW helos for the frigates/OPVs - preferably Wildcat, but perhaps H160M if Wildcat no longer available. This should keep the capital cost lower than Option1 above, and also keep operating costs lower too. Frigates get first option on the small helos, OPVs get one if there is one available.

Thoughts?
Lockheed Martin are offering the S-70i in all options as per Sikorsky S70i Brochure, so it's not a matter of if. Plus it would have the latest updates of everything. No the ships captor system wouldn't have to be changed because the helicopters system would be changed, same as the Aussie Seasprites that we acquired about 6 years ago. IIRC the OPV hangars are the same size as the FFH hangars so a S-70i will fit. The Aussie Romeos don't appear to have any trouble fitting inside their Anzac class frigate hangars and they were operating navalised S-70s prior to the Romeos. The hangars on ALL Anzac class frigates are the same size.

I have looked at acquiring 3 of the MTTH variant of the NH-90 to bring the NH-90 strength up to 11 which is where it should be, but it's expensive and the aircraft on the whole is quite expensive to operate. We would get better VfM by going with the LM S-70i because it is already integrated with all the weapons systems that we use. It's not actually the capital cost that's the killer, but the MLU(s) and WOLC later. That's one of the arguments that's being used to justify the proposed digital 100 century fighter aircraft series for the USAF, and I would have to agree with it.
 

RegR

Well-Known Member
I don't have a problem with a Wildcat. It's still a very capable maritime helo (perhaps it may be the best option for our rough sea conditions if we still won't be using some form of haul-down system in future). Agree that by the time anyone in NZG makes a decision it may not be available (2027 is a long way off, and there hasn't been any new orders for a while now)

A couple of things that I noted that weren't mentioned in the article but probably should have been:
1. No mention of the Airbus H160M (to be fair, it isn't scheduled to enter service with the Marine Nationale till 2028)
2. The RAN seem to be intending to replace their 6 NH90s (MRH90) around 2025, citing the logistics issues (in a ADBR article - here) of maintaining a small separate fleet of helicopters at sea. So that doesn't help the NH90's chances in NZ. The RAN appear to be favouring some form of MH-60 variant (to solve the aforementioned logistics issues) - although the MH-60S is now out of production.
3. Nine helos only realistically provides 3 operational at sea at any one time. How many aviation-capable ships will we have again?

What the article does highlight though is the confused messaging coming from the RNZN/MOD. So they appear to want exactly 9 new helicopters (presumably of only one type), that have to operate on all aviation-capable vessels in the RNZN fleet (including the small OPVs). That's a problem. As Greener notes, most of the options won't fit on the OPV, yet a small helicopter won't be ideal for the utility roles on the larger vessels (such as Canterbury & Aotearoa). I still think we need two types - I'd go with a small (6t) ASuW/ASW helo for frigates & OPVs, with a marinized 10t-11t dumb utility helo for the bigger ships. Doubt that will ever happen though.
TBH I don't think we should be basing the future naval helicopter fleet on the limitations of the current legacy fleet ie OPVS and essentially tailoring them to "fit" these ships all for the sake of a few years use. There are any number of OPVs out there now that can adequately handle upto MH60/NH90 type (BAM as an example) so infact should be instead basing the future naval fleet on catering to the future helo fleet and go from there and considering we already have NH90 in the system then that should be the size we now need to cater for regardless of how rare "transport" on say a frigate or OPV is (currently literally due to size/weight). The best suited maritime helo should not be limited to size as the main factor IMO and most new designs see the advantages of a larger hanger/flightdeck anyway as they have other uses than just purely helo support in these multi role inspired days, same as ship design in general.

The idea of a split type (vs role) fleet for 6 sqn maritime ops then poses the same problem(s) that RAN are facing now albeit on a much smaller scale so not sure how that would aleviate any issues if not cause them? If the much bigger beast that is the RAN cannot operate a split fleet then I think we would take away from that and avoid the concept also. Same type with different roles yes but 2 completely different types would literally just be a headache in the making. Personally all going to plan I would like to see NFH90 sort its ship out by the time we seriously consider replacement and we go for a split fleet of NFH90 and marinised NH90, that way training, maintenance, spares etc is greatly streamlined with the RNZAF 90s and we also get more NH90s in general albeit in naval guise but then considering the focus would be on the joint maritime taskforce then who better to operate them than the SME navy anyway as opposed to merely air force converts on the day. A big ask investment wise but was always going to be anyway, the second sprite purchase merely bought us time to go all out and provide the stepping stone and considering the more capable sealift announcements (alongside no doubt any more capable future frigate, OPVs) of late I really think the future direction is set and therefore has to be suitably and proportionally considered as well with a more capable helicopter fleet to match.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
TBH I don't think we should be basing the future naval helicopter fleet on the limitations of the current legacy fleet ie OPVS and essentially tailoring them to "fit" these ships all for the sake of a few years use. There are any number of OPVs out there now that can adequately handle upto MH60/NH90 type (BAM as an example) so infact should be instead basing the future naval fleet on catering to the future helo fleet and go from there and considering we already have NH90 in the system then that should be the size we now need to cater for regardless of how rare "transport" on say a frigate or OPV is (currently literally due to size/weight). The best suited maritime helo should not be limited to size as the main factor IMO and most new designs see the advantages of a larger hanger/flightdeck anyway as they have other uses than just purely helo support in these multi role inspired days, same as ship design in general.

The idea of a split type (vs role) fleet for 6 sqn maritime ops then poses the same problem(s) that RAN are facing now albeit on a much smaller scale so not sure how that would aleviate any issues if not cause them? If the much bigger beast that is the RAN cannot operate a split fleet then I think we would take away from that and avoid the concept also. Same type with different roles yes but 2 completely different types would literally just be a headache in the making. Personally all going to plan I would like to see NFH90 sort its ship out by the time we seriously consider replacement and we go for a split fleet of NFH90 and marinised NH90, that way training, maintenance, spares etc is greatly streamlined with the RNZAF 90s and we also get more NH90s in general albeit in naval guise but then considering the focus would be on the joint maritime taskforce then who better to operate them than the SME navy anyway as opposed to merely air force converts on the day. A big ask investment wise but was always going to be anyway, the second sprite purchase merely bought us time to go all out and provide the stepping stone and considering the more capable sealift announcements (alongside no doubt any more capable future frigate, OPVs) of late I really think the future direction is set and therefore has to be suitably and proportionally considered as well with a more capable helicopter fleet to match.
Part of the issue the RAN is having is that the MRH 90 is a maintenance hog with Army Aviation struggling to the degree that they are now looking for an interim type to supplement the 90. Its not a split fleet thing, there are dozens of 90s in ADF service, its a design and supportability thing.

The requirement that led to the 90 being selected was for a dozen additional troop lift helicopters to supplement the Blackhawk. This is why a larger helo was considered, but then it became a replacement for the Blackhawk and the perhaps more versatile EH101 was dropped from consideration for being too large. Following the Nias tragedy the 90 also became the Sea King replacement and most recently the last SOF roled Blackhawks have been retired and replaced with 90s. The NFH 90 was a contender for the SH-60B replacement but perhaps fortunately the Romeo was selected instead.

The 90 is the largest single helicopter fleet in ADF and was almost much larger (imagine 24 NFH 90s instead of Romeos) and there is still the requirement for a CSAR helo at some point (ironically one thing the MRH 90 is apparently quite suited to), it is by no means a victim of split fleets. The thought of the ADF trying to support 70 (MRH and NFH) or possibly 82 (CSAR) of the things is horrifying, 46 is bad enough.
 

RegR

Well-Known Member
Part of the issue the RAN is having is that the MRH 90 is a maintenance hog with Army Aviation struggling to the degree that they are now looking for an interim type to supplement the 90. Its not a split fleet thing, there are dozens of 90s in ADF service, its a design and supportability thing.

The requirement that led to the 90 being selected was for a dozen additional troop lift helicopters to supplement the Blackhawk. This is why a larger helo was considered, but then it became a replacement for the Blackhawk and the perhaps more versatile EH101 was dropped from consideration for being too large. Following the Nias tragedy the 90 also became the Sea King replacement and most recently the last SOF roled Blackhawks have been retired and replaced with 90s. The NFH 90 was a contender for the SH-60B replacement but perhaps fortunately the Romeo was selected instead.

The 90 is the largest single helicopter fleet in ADF and was almost much larger (imagine 24 NFH 90s instead of Romeos) and there is still the requirement for a CSAR helo at some point (ironically one thing the MRH 90 is apparently quite suited to), it is by no means a victim of split fleets. The thought of the ADF trying to support 70 (MRH and NFH) or possibly 82 (CSAR) of the things is horrifying, 46 is bad enough.
Must be an Australian issue as we do not seem to be having nearly as many problems with ours, they are currently on ex with the navy now again perfecting the role. In saying that we do seem to get fleets working that Australia can't ala SH2G. I think it could also stem (having worked directly with ADF on deployments) from over complicating procedures and requirements as well as we tend to keep things more simple yet functional. That is saying something as our military has it's fair share of naff procedures as well as any NZDF per can attest to.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Must be an Australian issue as we do not seem to be having nearly as many problems with ours, they are currently on ex with the navy now again perfecting the role. In saying that we do seem to get fleets working that Australia can't ala SH2G. I think it could also stem (having worked directly with ADF on deployments) from over complicating procedures and requirements as well as we tend to keep things more simple yet functional. That is saying something as our military has it's fair share of naff procedures as well as any NZDF per can attest to.
My understanding is compared to other platforms the MRH is is an over complicated maintenance hog, even compared to the in some ways bleeding edge Tiger. If NZ is going ok with the 90 guaranteed they would be doing even better and cheaper with something else. Then again it is a very small fleet with many of the same overheads that much larger fleets require, so if you crunch out the manhours, spares and support costs per airframe its probably more akin to the costs of a small specialist fleet elsewhere, i.e. VIP aircraft. I wouldn't be surprised if NZ operating costs, per airframe, were higher than the ADFs.
 

RegR

Well-Known Member
My understanding is compared to other platforms the MRH is is an over complicated maintenance hog, even compared to the in some ways bleeding edge Tiger. If NZ is going ok with the 90 guaranteed they would be doing even better and cheaper with something else. Then again it is a very small fleet with many of the same overheads that much larger fleets require, so if you crunch out the manhours, spares and support costs per airframe its probably more akin to the costs of a small specialist fleet elsewhere, i.e. VIP aircraft. I wouldn't be surprised if NZ operating costs, per airframe, were higher than the ADFs.
Yes agreed it is a giant tech leap in terms of what they replaced (for us especially) and is therefore inevitably alot more manpower intensive but I guess with capability comes cost, if anyone can "afford" it I'm sure it's Australia. I wonder if the clocks were wound back and more was known would we both be flying blackhawks instead?
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Yes agreed it is a giant tech leap in terms of what they replaced (for us especially) and is therefore inevitably alot more manpower intensive but I guess with capability comes cost, if anyone can "afford" it I'm sure it's Australia. I wonder if the clocks were wound back and more was known would we both be flying blackhawks instead?
Highly likely on the Blackhawks, M model I expect, but leaving room for the Sierra for CSAR and naval support missions and Romeo for the ASW and surface warfare missions.

I often wonder what would have happened had the EH 101 been successful for the original additional troop lift requirement. The Army apparently was not at all keen on the size of the thing and it definitely couldn't have replaced the Blackhawks. Go the T700 powered version and there are already savings on logistics and training, buy an additional half dozen as Sea King replacement's and there's a fleet of 18, it may have been suitable for NZ instead of the MRH. Blackhawk replacement, easy, more Blackhawks then the RAN goes Romeos and special forces get MH-60M.

Even easier without EH101, just buy extra Blackhawk Ms and Sierras, the entire fleet has a level of commonality but each operator has the special variant they need. May need a couple of extra Chooks though. End result Tiger Chook and different variants of Blackhawks and Seahawks, three types in service, not need for interim types, no need for compromise.
 

RegR

Well-Known Member
Highly likely on the Blackhawks, M model I expect, but leaving room for the Sierra for CSAR and naval support missions and Romeo for the ASW and surface warfare missions.

I often wonder what would have happened had the EH 101 been successful for the original additional troop lift requirement. The Army apparently was not at all keen on the size of the thing and it definitely couldn't have replaced the Blackhawks. Go the T700 powered version and there are already savings on logistics and training, buy an additional half dozen as Sea King replacement's and there's a fleet of 18, it may have been suitable for NZ instead of the MRH. Blackhawk replacement, easy, more Blackhawks then the RAN goes Romeos and special forces get MH-60M.

Even easier without EH101, just buy extra Blackhawk Ms and Sierras, the entire fleet has a level of commonality but each operator has the special variant they need. May need a couple of extra Chooks though. End result Tiger Chook and different variants of Blackhawks and Seahawks, three types in service, not need for interim types, no need for compromise.
Yip that would have definately solved our maritime helo replacement choice had we gone down the blackhawk family road and simplified an otherwise somewhat difficult project. Ah well the die is cast now with NH90 for us anyway so we just have to roll with the punches and more importantly, make them connect.
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
The NZDF has converted a CAT 555D Forestry Skidder into a Beach Preparation and Recovery Vehicle for use in amphibious ops. It is the result or a two and half year development program with Terra Cat. The vehicle can be used for clearing debris etc., on a beach, pushing landing craft off the beach, pushing / pulling stuck vehicles etc.


NZDF BPRV.jpg
 
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