The aircraft will be delivered from 2025 and will cost a combined total of more than A$8 billion. Of this, $2.5 billion will cover the acquisition of the 12 Romeo helicopters, while $5.5 billion will cover the acquisition and operation of the 29 new Apaches.
The Romeos will be stationed at HMAS Albatross in east New South Wales (NSW) and will be used to expand the size of the navy’s helicopter fleet and will replace its existing MRH-90 Taipan helicopter fleet. The government has also set aside $360 million for the expansion of facilities at the base to accommodate the new aircraft.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the Romeos will be used in a range of roles, including as a submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare aircraft, and in peacetime roles such as search and rescue (SAR) and as transport ‘like they have during recent bushfires and floods’.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that: “The navy already operates Romeo helicopters and using a single type of helicopter for all maritime roles offers value-for-money and significant efficiencies through the use of common maintenance, training, and other sustainment services.”
The Apaches will replace the Australian army’s Tiger fleet
The Apaches will be employed by the army and will replace its existing fleet of Eurocopter Tiger helicopters. A sum of $500 million will be used to upgrade army facilities to support the new Apache helicopters.
Dutton said the Apache was a ‘proven and reliable attack helicopter’ which has ‘improved sensors, communications and networking systems, attack capabilities and survivability’.
Price added that the Apaches would complement the army’s Tactical Uncrewed Aircraft Systems and the Royal Australian Air Force’s Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, saying that: “The Apaches will be a key part of Australian air capability across our services.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investments were a crucial part of Australia’s national security, stating that the government planned to spend $270 billion on defence by 2030.
“Australia and our region is now in the midst of the most consequential and challenging strategic realignment since the Second World War,” he added.