With tenders due to be submitted nine days from now, Airbus Helicopters have confirmed that they are offering the H145M for LAND 2097 Phase 4. Army is looking for 12 proven, in-production helicopters of the 4-tonne class for Special Forces use – both for counter terrorism missions in Australia and also for overseas deployments.

Airbus Helicopters has also offered seven H145Ms for LAND 4503 – the Tiger helicopter replacement project.  This is to complement their offer of 22 upgraded Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to meet a Defence requirement for a total of 29 in-service platforms by the latter part of this decade.

The Tiger ARH (PHOTO: Kieren Whiteley)

The H145M is the militarised version of the popular H145 twin-engine commercial platform. With a two-person crew, it can carry weapons, sensors, add-on Kevlar armour and up to 10 passengers – depending on seating configuration and how much equipment they would need to carry. The company describes the platform as versatile, modern and proven – for example having been chosen by German Special Forces as well as other customers such as Serbia, Hungary and Thailand.

An H145M in use in Germany. (PHOTO: Airbus)

The company argues that if the Commonwealth accepts their offers for both LAND 2097 and LAND 4503 the total savings to the taxpayer will be $3 billion compared with purchasing new attack helicopters, such as the Boeing Apache or the Bell Textron Viper.  At the same time Airbus Helicopter says that the two bids are not co-dependent and even though they hope both will be accepted they have also been presented as stand-alone offers.

Airbus Helicopters says that they currently have 15 local teaming partners supporting the LAND 2097 bid – most prominently Thales, Safran and QinetiQ. If the platform is selected, these companies will become part of the H145M global supply chain, which would constitute a further boost to Australia’s growing success as an exporter of hi-tech defence equipment.

Apparently the unsolicited offer for LAND 4503 is being evaluated by an independent group within Defence – and while Airbus has not had any formal feedback, they say that they are in dialog with the customer and they feel that the merits of their suggested approach, especially the huge savings, are well understood.

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