October 10, 2019 – An icon of naval aviation now features at the Australian National Maritime Museum with the new S-70B-2 (Bravo) Seahawk ‘Tiger 75’ exhibit officially opened during the 2019 Sea Power Conference.
The nineteen metre-long aircraft, with a tail painted in the tiger-striped livery of 816 Squadron, is suspended 10 metres in the air from the museum’s ceiling, giving visitor a close-up look of an aircraft with 29 years of service history with the Royal Australian Navy.
Tiger 75 deployed to the Middle East multiple times, and was one of two Bravos embarked in HMAS Newcastle to be involved in rescue operations during the ill-fated 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
The Bravo was decommissioned from service in December 2017 and was replaced with the MH-60R ‘Romeo’ as Navy’s submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter.
Captain Anthony Savage started his career as an Air Warfare Officer on Seahawk Bravos in 1996 and was on the last-ever Royal Australian Navy Bravo flight in 2017.
“I think people forget what a great servant the Bravo was to the Australian people,” Captain Savage said.
“We used to call it the role-adaptable weapons system in terms of what it delivered to search and rescue, floods, famine but also in terms of high-end warfare in the Persian Gulf.
“You name it, it dealt with it.”
“The other thing people forget is that we received 16 Bravos on delivery and retired exactly the same number years later, which is a testament to the incredible capability of the machine and the people who maintained them.”
Captain Savage said his colleagues at 816 Squadron who worked with Bravos would be proud to see Tiger 75 on display in a museum.
“We always used to say at 816 Squadron that “the tiger stripes never fade”,” Captain Savage said.
The current Commanding Officer of 816 Squadron, Commander Todd Glynn, was also at the opening of the Tiger 75 exhibit and said seeing the very aircraft he flew on deployment brought back many memories.
“I started Bravos in 2008 and took Tiger 75 to the Middle East in 2011, where we did a number of boardings.
“We managed to help release some hostages on a pirate vessel and the aircraft was critical to finding that vessel and making sure our boarding parties were well protected as they disarmed the pirates.
“Bravos were the first aircraft to have software during the mission systems and the computers were the same as those in the space shuttles at the time – it was like an Apple Macintosh computer from the 1980s.”
Commander Glynn said flying the Bravo could be an invigorating experience at times.
“It’s got a thousand parts trying to get out of synchronization, so everything is vibrating and it excites every sense in your body. You have to concentrate because the environment is so unforgiving and one moment of relaxation might mean you and our aircraft are in a position you don’t want to be in.”
“We have special relationships with the ships we sail on, the aircraft we fly in and the submarines we dive in, and I think it’s wonderful that we can share the relationship we have with this aircraft in the Australian National Maritime Museum,” Commander Glynn said.