Australia cleared to acquire 40 UH-60M Black Hawks to replace its troubled fleet of Relatively New MRH-90 Taipan European Helicopters

Australia cleared to acquire 40 UH-60M Black Hawks to replace its troubled fleet of Relatively New MRH-90 Taipan European Helicopters

By Dario Leone
Sep 7 2022
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Australia’s attempt to replace the troubled MRH-90 Taipan helicopter with the UH-60M has taken another step forward after the US government approved the potential Foreign Military Sale on Aug. 25, 2022.

Australia’s attempt to replace the troubled MRH-90 Taipan helicopter with the UH-60M has taken another step forward after the US government approved the potential Foreign Military Sale on Aug. 25, 2022.

According to Transmittal No 22-51 ‘the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $1.95 billion.

Additionally in Transmittal No 22-51 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said that ‘The proposed sale will replace Australia’s current multi-role helicopter fleet with a more reliable and proven system that will allow Australia to maintain the appropriate level of readiness to conduct combined operations. The UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter will improve the Australian Army’s ability to deploy combat power to share Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against its interests, and, when required, respond with credible force. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.’

As reported by Alert 5, in its justification to buy the UH-60M to replace the MRH-90, former Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said last year that the “performance of the MRH-90 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.”

The fleet of MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, which has been in service with the Australian Army since 2007, is constantly plagued by issues related to maintenance and poor availability of spare parts, although it is considered better than the Black Hawk performance-wise. As reported by The Eurasian Times, the decision to scrap the European-designed helicopter comes about a decade sooner than expected.

Australia cleared to acquire 40 UH-60M Black Hawks to replace its troubled fleet of Relatively New MRH-90 Taipan European Helicopters
UH-60M Black Hawk

The Department of Defense said in 2020 that the Taipans’ doors were too narrow to allow for firing when troops descended from the chopper.

The MRH-90 was first delivered to the Army and Navy in 2004 and hasn’t yet achieved what it promised.

The MRH-90 multi-role helicopter replaced the existing Black Hawk and Sea King helicopter fleets. 46 MRH-90 aircraft have been acquired for the Navy and Army.

The first two aircraft were accepted into service in Brisbane on Dec. 18, 2007.

Since its induction in the Australian Military, the helicopter has been plagued by maintenance troubles. In early 2021, the Australian military’s fleet of 47 MRH-90 Taipan helicopters was grounded due to maintenance and safety issues with the aircraft’s support system.

The fleet was grounded in 2019 as well, due to severe tail rotor vibration and delamination, which necessitated the replacement of tail rotors throughout the fleet.

The Defense Department stated in 2020 that it was spending more than $37 million in Townsville to hire civilian helicopters to retain capability while it dealt with long-standing issues with the MRH-90 Taipans.

Photo credit: Capt. Brian Harris / U.S. Army and Royal Australian Navy

Australia cleared to acquire 40 UH-60M Black Hawks to replace its troubled fleet of Relatively New MRH-90 Taipan European Helicopters
MRH90 helicopter

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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Comments

  1. T1bsy says:

    We’re also replacing our (well our army anyway) is also replacing the Eurocopter Tiger Attack Helo. So another Airbus failure. Their marketing department must be top notch or our acquisition process is seriously flawed. We had Blackhawks before and they gave strong service. Hats off to the maintainers who delt with so many issues from a flawed acquisition.

  2. Andy64 says:

    T1bsy, there’s no production order for an ARH (Tiger) replacement yet and nobody knows if it will survive the current Defence Review. Same for a UH-60M.
    ARH is primarily being replaced because 22 aircraft aren’t enough and it’s not marinised. 29 isn’t much better.
    MRH90 is a far more capable aircraft but also more expensive. The previous goverment made a largely economic decision.
    Strong service? When I last worked on S70A9 we had 3 out of 39 aircraft available.

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