Minister for Defence Richard Marles today announced that the Army’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopter fleet will not return to flying operations before their planned withdrawal from service.
FILE PHOTO: An Army MRH-90 Taipan lands in Fitzroy Crossing, in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, where flooding from Ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie has isolated communities. Story by Lieutenant Geoff Long. Photo by Leading Seaman Jarrod Mulvihill.
Mr Marles said the government remained focused on the introduction into service of the new fleet of UH‑60M Black Hawk helicopters.
“The first three Black Hawks have arrived in Australia and commenced flying in September, with remaining Black Hawks continuing to be delivered,” Mr Marles said.
“The Australian Defence Force will continue to operate its CH-47F Chinooks, Tigers and MH‑60R Seahawks, [which] together, will continue to provide a robust and ready aviation capability to the Australian people.
“From 2025, the new AH-64E Apache helicopters will also be introduced into service for the Australian Army.
“To help mitigate further impacts on Army’s operations and training, we have been exploring options to accelerate the delivery of Black Hawks to Australia and for aircrew training with our international partners.
“The MRH-90 Taipan workforce is highly skilled and Defence is working with industry partners to ensure they are supported through the capability transitional period.
“As we made clear at the time, Defence would not fly this platform until investigations into that incident were complete and, advice provided to government has outlined these ongoing investigations are likely to continue well into 2024.”
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said the Australian government
EDITOR’S NOTE: Does this announcement come as a surprise to anyone? Well, actually, while the fact that the Taipan fleet won’t fly again is no surprise, the fact that Defence Minister Marles actually called it publicly – and so soon after the crash – probably is. Also, does anyone buy the line “today’s announcement did not presuppose or in any way suggest the outcome of investigations”. I don’t.