Australia to lease former UK Airbus H135s

Gepubliceerd op 7 februari 2024 om 17:50

© Giovanni van Erven

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has made an announcement that they will lease five Airbus Helicopters EC135T3 (H135) twin-engine light utility helicopters from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a period of five years.

The ADF already uses fifteen EC135T2+ helicopters for its joint Army/Navy aircrew training. These machines are operated by 723 Squadron of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) at HMAS Albatross (Nowra, NSW).

The leased helicopters however will be based at Oakey Army Aviation Center in Queensland. Besides a training role for Army aviation aircrews, they will also be used for light transport duties for the ADF. It is estimated that they will commence operations mid 2024.

As the joint Army/Navy training unit was only established in 2018, initialising a separate training unit for the Army seems like a (partial?) change in politics with regard to rotary training. A shift in politics is not new for Australian Defence initial helicopter training activities. In the nineties a similar Army/Navy joint training was set up at Fairbairns (Canberra), but was dissolved again in 1998 in favour of service-specific training organisations.

The five H135s were originally ordered by the UK MoD in 2022 to replace British Army Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopters in Northern Ireland. However, in January 2023 they were taken to Shawbury for storage even before becoming operational. As it appears, the security situation in the region improved, making the helicopters obsolete.

According to the Scramble database the following H135s are involved: G-CMIR (c/n 2175), G-CMIS (c/n 2179), G-CMIT (c/n 2181), G-CMIU (c/n 2184) and G-CMIV (c/n 2188)