The transaction, approved by the Pentagon in August 2022, will be worth an estimated A$2.8 billion (US$1.96 billion). The aircraft will be used to replace the Australian military’s existing fleet of 47 MRH-90 Taipan helicopters.
The Taipan fleet entered service in 2007, replacing the earlier-generation Black Hawks previously used in the same role. However, the fleet has suffered from growing maintenance concerns in recent years. The fleet was grounded in 2019 for urgent tail rotor repairs and, in 2020, 27 of the helicopters were also grounded due to concerns about the usability of the aircraft’s sliding doors. In 2021, it was also disclosed that the Department of Defence was paying A$37 million to hire private helicopters due to the limited availability of the Taipan aircraft.
The Taipans, which are operated by both the Australian Army and Navy, are currently used for a range of mission types, including search and rescue, medical evacuation, troop transport, counter-terrorism and special operations.
“The Black Hawk capability will be a crucial element for us to protect Australia’s sovereignty and deliver foreign policy objects, including providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Major General Jeremy King, Head of Land Capability for the Army. “The Black Hawk is a reliable, proven, and mature platform supported by a robust global supply chain. This acquisition will mean we can continue to defend Australia and respond in times of need safely and effectively for years to come.”
The Australian government previously said that it would acquire 41 new helicopters in May 2022.