Accelerated delivery of Australian Black Hawks

Gepubliceerd op 10 februari 2024 om 22:53

© Australian Defence Force

In October 2023 the Australian Defence Forces retired the MRH90 Taipans with immediate effect because of series of incidents. A fatal crash that cost the lives of four crewmembers on wednesday 28 july 2023 was the final blow.

This story has now taken a somewhat bizarre sequel, as it became clear that NH Industries (NHI) has reportedly bought back all the spare parts and components that were worth salvaging. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) then decided to secretly bury the 47 empty Taipan hulks on a defense site.

With an estimated value of around USD 14 million each, this probably means the most expensive funeral ever.

Because deliveries of the Taipan's replacement, the Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk, had only just begun, a significant gap had emerged in the country's utility airlift capabilities. By August 2023 only three of the forty ordered Black Hawks had been delivered and at the time it was unknown what the timelines for further deliveries would be.

This month the Australian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced that they have agreed upon an accelerated delivery of nine UH-60Ms. According to the information, this batch will be delivered in March 2024 bringing the total number of Black Hawks to twelve this year. The delivery timeline for the remaining 28 helicopters has not yet been announced.

An Australian MRH90 Taipan before getting retired and burried. (© Australian Army)

In the same announcement it was revealed that support and maintenance contracts had been signed with Lockheed Martin for the UH-60M and with Boeing Defence for the AH-64E Apache Guardian of which the first of 29 ordered are due to arrive in 2025. In addition to these contracts, Boeing Defence was awarded a contract for the extention of the support services for the CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters until 2028.The total value of these contracts is estimated to be in the order of USD 541 million.