Defence looks to replace Taipan helicopter with US Black Hawks

By Jackson Graham

December 10, 2021

a landed Taipan Army helicopter
An Australian Army MRH90 Taipan helicopter from the 5th Aviation Regiment at Cloncurry Airfield, Queensland. (Defence)

Australia is looking to replace its Taipan helicopter with Black Hawks and Seahawks from the US. 

Defence minister Peter Dutton announced on Friday that the government had requested advice from the US on buying up to 40 Black Hawk helicopters that would “potentially replace” the Taipan helicopter used in the Army and Navy.

The Mandarin reported in October that Australia had made an earlier request to the US to buy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. 

The trouble-plagued Taipan, used by the Australian Army as its utility helicopter and the Navy to support capability, has not met contracted availability requirements or the expected cost of ownership. 

Defence was expecting to withdraw the Taipan in 2037, but the new acquisition would bring that date forward. 

“The performance of the MRH90 Taipan has been an ongoing and well-documented concern for Defence and there has been a significant effort at great expense to try to remediate those issues,” Dutton said in a statement.

The latest version of the UH60 Black Hawk, which the Australian government is requesting, is the most widely used utility helicopter variant in the world. 

It has been in service with the US Army and other nations for more than a decade.

“The Australian Government is exercising its right to understand what options are available to provide the necessary capability at a reasonable cost into the future,” Dutton said. 

The government will need to consider and approve the decision once information on the helicopters is available.


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