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Australia Prepares to Receive New Sikorsky Helicopters

United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) is going Down Under.

On Wednesday (their time), Australian Minister for Defence Materiel Dr. Mike Kelly announced that the first of two dozen Sikorsky MH-60R "Seahawk Romeo" helicopters being built for Australia by United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) has passed its first test flight. Testing was conducted on-site at Sikorsky's production facility in Connecticut, and occurred six months ahead of schedule.

MH-60R Sikorsky Seahawk, Source: Australian Defence Materiel Organisation

Kelly noted that Australia has agreed to pay UTC $3 billion for the helicopters. The new birds will replace 16 "Classic" Seahawks already serving in the Australian military. Among other improvements, the Romeo version will give Australia an air-to-surface strike capability. And when paired with the Royal Australian Navy's new Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class Air Warfare Destroyers, the RAN expects to be able to deploy at least eight of these helicopters at sea, aboard-ship, at any given time.

Now flight-tested, the first "Romeo" is being shipped off for outfitting with systems and sensors. Three more birds have already begun assembly, and at least two of these first four are expected to be delivered to the RAN before the end of this year.

In related news, Australia recently requested that Congress authorize the sale to it of 100 Raytheon (NYSE: RTN  ) MK 54 torpedoes, some of which will be loaded aboard the new Seahawks for air-to-surface missions.

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