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New helicopters for Army.

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate


Tuesday, 31 August 2004 175/2004


The Australian Army will be equipped with 12 new troop lift helicopters under a $1 billion project approved by the Howard Government, Prime Minister John Howard and Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today. Senator Hill said the Government had selected Australian Aerospace to supply the new MRH-90 aircraft to form an additional troop lift helicopter squadron, subject to satisfactory conclusion of negotiations. This will bolster Australia’s counter-terrorism capabilities by releasing a Black

Hawk squadron to provide dedicated support to our Special Forces on the east coast. “The MRH-90 is the new generation of multi-role helicopters, equipped with state-of-the-art technology, a rear ramp that can be used to load small vehicles, a flexible cabin configuration, a full fly-by-wire flight control system and digital cockpit,” Senator Hill said. “The helicopter can carry up to 18 troops plus four crew or 4000kg of underslung cargo, cruises at up to 300kph and has a maximum range of over 900km. It is a fully marinised helicopter that is able to operate from the Royal Australian Navy’s current and future amphibious ships. “It is purpose-built for amphibious operations and includes extra corrosion protection, folding rotor blades and other enhancements to allow shipboard operations. This will give the Army an enhanced ability to move more soldiers further and faster from our amphibious lift ships, HMAS Kanimbla and Manoora, and their replacements. “The aircraft is certified for ditching and is designed to modern safety standards, including crashworthiness and tolerance to structural and system damage - offering excellent protection for our troops that will be conducting sea and land operations.” Senator Hill said the first helicopter for the new squadron at Townsville would be delivered in 2007, with all 12 aircraft expected to be delivered by 2008. “The new squadron will increase Army’s troop lift capability by more than half,” Senator Hill said. “This will allow the relocation of a squadron of Black Hawk helicopters to the Sydney area to support the ADF’s Special Forces, further strengthening the Howard Government’s commitment to fighting terrorism. “The Black Hawk squadron will be located near our Special Forces soldiers that are based at Holsworthy and will enhance mobility and training effectiveness for this critical capability. “The Howard Government has committed more than $1.3 billion to the Australian Defence Force to fight the war against terrorism since 11 September 2001. This project will mean our Special Forces are better equipped to respond swiftly to any terrorist threat or incident.” Senator Hill said the project would also provide a substantial boost for Australian industry.

Media contacts Catherine Fitzpatrick (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0405 351 245

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664


“The purchase of these new helicopters will include a support contract that may last for up to 20 years, and the overall Australian industry component of this project is expected to exceed $300 million,” Senator Hill said. “Benefits are expected to build on Australian Aerospace’s industry commitment developed as part of project AIR 87 and the delivery of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, the Eurocopter Tiger. Opportunities for Australian industry are anticipated in helicopter assembly, common and similar aircraft systems, avionics equipment, structural and engine technologies and training systems.”

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