The Australian Defence Force’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopters will not return to flying operations before their planned withdrawal date of December 2024. The Government remains 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.
The Australian Defence Force will continue to operate its CH-47F Chinooks, Tigers and MH‑60R Seahawks. Together, these helicopters 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, the Government has 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.
Today’s announcement does not presuppose or any way suggest the outcome of the investigations into the tragic incident on 28 July, where an MRH-90 Taipan impacted waters near Lindeman Island, Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre.
As the Government made clear at the time, Defence would not fly this platform until investigations into that incident were complete. The advice provided to Government has outlined these ongoing investigations are likely to continue well into 2024.
Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon Richard Marles said: “The MRH-90 has been an important capability for our country and Defence Force, and I recognise the hard work of the hundreds of people who dedicated themselves to acquiring, operating and sustaining the aircraft. The first of the 40 Black Hawks that will replace the MRH-90 have arrived and are already flying in Australia. We are focused on seeing their introduction to service as quickly as possible. The Government’s highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people. We continue to support the families of the four soldiers who lost their lives earlier this year, and the broader Defence community.”
Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy MP said: “The Australian Government recognises the unique and highly valued contributions of skilled defence industry workers. We are actively working with industry partners to transition the skilled workers supporting MRH-90s to the Black Hawk program and Army’s other helicopters.”