Australia to replace French-built fleet with $3b Black Hawks

Australia will buy 40 new Black Hawk helicopters, manufactured by the United States, to replace its current French-built fleet, Defence Minister Richard Marles announced.

Australia to replace French-built fleet with $3b Black Hawks
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Australia will spend $3b buying 40 new Black Hawk helicopters, Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced.

The US-built choppers, to be delivered later this year, will replace the current French-built fleet.

It is the second time in recent history that Australia has ditched French weaponry for US alternatives, but Marles denied the decision would cause a diplomatic rift.

 He said that, unlike the Morrison government which blindsided the French with its decision to tear up a contract for submarines, the Albanese government had been in constant communication with Paris regarding its decision on the helicopters.

“It's definitely not a surprise... they've appreciated the upfront way in which we've gone about making this decision,” he told ABC Radio.

“We've worked closely with them in relation to it.”

Marles said there were concerns around repeated maintenance issues and difficulty obtaining spare parts for the French-built Taipan helicopters.

There was also an issue with the door of the Taipan not being wide enough for soldiers to repel from under certain conditions. 

He said the Black Hawks were far more suitable.

“We have a really good proven track record in terms of their reliability and getting hours out of them and so we think it will be a platform which provides this capability in the way we need for the Australian Army.”

Head Land Capability Major General Jeremy King said the Black Hawks were crucial to protecting Australian sovereignty.

“They will support the deployment of our troops and their equipment where they are needed... the Black Hawk is a reliable, proven and mature platform supported by a robust global supply chain,” he said.

“This acquisition will mean we can continue to defend Australia and respond in times of need in a safe and effective way for years to come.”


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  • By Avi Yemini

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