Boeing has always had a strong position in the Australian military rotary wing domain but now that the order of AH-64E Apache is being factored into the mix the company is moving into a position of dominance. That is not a word you will hear from Boeing – the consistent message during a media tour is one of cooperation with the customer and a desire to work as closely as possible with Defence through partnerships rather than traditional us-and-them contracting.

The company has been involved in Australia for more than 90 years in various corporate incarnations.

In the contemporary era, Boeing’s involvement with helicopters started in 1974 with the purchase by Australia of the first of a rolling series of CH-47 Chinook acquisitions that are set to continue for decades. The company has supported them ever since and has also undertaken maintenance on helicopters from other manufacturers such as Army Blackhawks.

An important part of the picture is training and in 2013 Boeing was awarded the HATS contract (Helicopter Aircrew Training System) along with Thales to provide 15 Airbus EC-135 helicopters, along with a number of simulators. Future Army and Navy helicopter pilots arrive at Nowra having completed fixed wing flight training. Once there, they are immersed in a system that takes them through increasingly complex and extremely realistic simulations – the author had the pleasure of piloting a virtual EC-135 around Parliament House – before they move onto the real thing.

Defence representatives confirmed the effectiveness of the program and the close, constructive relationship with Boeing with the contract being described as an exemplar of cooperation with industry. The focus is training pilots and aircrew for combat. Of the 193 staff of the unit – 723 Squadron – 61% are Boeing employees with another 11% from Thales.

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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