The Australian military said on December 10 that it intends to replace its fleet of European-designed Taipan helicopters with American Black Hawks and Seahawks because the latter are more reliable.
The action comes less than three months after Australia backed out of a contract to acquire French submarines in favour of creating nuclear-powered submarines using American and British technology, infuriating France.
Australia has 47 Taipan helicopters, which were designed by Airbus and are scheduled to last until 2037 but have been grounded due to maintenance issues. In a transfer that will cost $7 billion Australian dollars ($4.8 billion), Australia will stop using them and replace them with 40 Lockheed Martin-designed helicopters.
Australia’s defence capabilities are growing, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and the country has developed strong partnerships, particularly with the United States.
“The Taipans were falling short of their goals. “It’s as simple as that,” Mr. Morrison explained. “And we want to make sure that our military forces have the strongest equipment available to defend this country, which the Black Hawks will offer.”
The Black Hawks are significantly cheaper to fly, according to Defense Minister Peter Dutton, and officials have been concerned about the Taipan programme for the previous decade.
Mr. Dutton stated, “I’m just not going to put our personnel in that position because it’s had nine instances when it’s been inappropriate to fly.”
He said the new helicopters would put Australia’s fleet closer to that of the United States, which is vital given the region’s unpredictability.
China has already expressed displeasure with Australia’s submarine transition, claiming that the US and UK were being irresponsible in exporting nuclear technology.
Opposition MPs claim the Australian government has squandered billions of dollars on bad defence contract selections.