Three Black Hawk army helicopters to arrive early
Dominic Giannini |
Three Black Hawk helicopters will arrive in Australia sooner than expected and the army will lease five training choppers from the UK in a bid to boost performance.
The expedited Black Hawks mean Australia will receive nine from the US in 2024 – boosting the fleet to 12 – before a further 28 are delivered by 2029.
A Black Hawk training simulator will also arrive early while the defence force will lease five H135 “Juno” training helicopters from Britain for five years.
On top of training roles, the H135s can also aid in personnel and equipment transport.
Hundreds of new jobs are also set to be created with the government allocating $830 million worth of contracts for the Black Hawks, Apaches and Chinooks.
Lockheed Martin Australia will get $340 million to provide specialist support for the Black Hawks over five years, with jobs to be created in NSW and Queensland.
Boeing Defence Australia will be paid more than $300 million over seven years for the maintenance, engineering, training and logistic support for the Apaches, creating 230 new jobs in Queensland – 150 in Townsville, 50 in Brisbane and 30 in Oakey.
Boeing will also receive an extra $184 million for work on the Chinook helicopters up to mid-2028, which is set to create more than 70 jobs across Townsville, Oakey and Brisbane.
Australia needed a highly capable army and the gap created by the early grounding of the Taipan fleet after a crash killed four in a training drill had to be plugged, Defence Minister Richard Marles said.
“It meant that we needed to look at all options when it came to filling the capability gap and the training which our servicemen and women need,” he said.
“We have been working with the United States and United Kingdom on ways in which we can bridge this gap.
“Their support and willingness with the acceleration of the Black Hawks and leasing of training helicopters will have a significant impact.”AAP