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News: New Australian helicopter competition

By Gary Parsons on 28 April 2010, 17:55

The NH90 may get another order in Australia. NHIndustries image

The Australian government wants a new combat helicopter for the Navy.

April 28: Senator John Faulkner, the Australian Minister for Defence announced that the government is to pursue a new naval combat helicopter for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The new tender follows the failure of the RAN to accept the Kaman SH-2G(A) Super Sea Sprite into service due to the type not meeting Australian airworthiness certification standards. The Australian government signed a A$667 million (€468 million) contract in 1997 with Kaman to purchase eleven SH-2G(A) Super Sea Sprites, but the programme was officially terminated on March 5, 2008 despite the aircraft all being delivered.

The RAN had wanted the government to approve a A$4 billion (€2.8 billion) ‘rapid acquisition’ of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawks, but this was scuppered with the cabinet insisting the NHIndustries NH90 should also be considered, as 40 are being delivered to the Australian Army for service entry by 2014 and the RAN is to have six to replace the maritime support Westland Sea Kings of 817 Squadron, based at Nowra in New South Wales.

Under the new tender, the Government is to acquire sufficient helicopters to provide at least eight concurrently embarked on ships at sea, requiring a fleet of 24.

Senator Faulkner said “The competition to select a new helicopter has commenced on schedule ahead of a final decision in 2011. The release of tender documents now is in line with the schedule determined by the Government when it considered the project for First Pass Approval in February of this year.”

Filed Under: News

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