Friday, August 11, 2023

Australia receives first batch of 3 UH-60M Black Hawk multi-role helicopters


Australuan Army personnel aboard a US Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during Balikatan Exercises 2023 in the Philippines. Photo c/o DVIDS.

The Australian Army has received the first batch of three UH-60M Black Hawk multi-role helicopters, which is part of an deal between Australia and the United States announced last January 2023.

The delivery was made in two separate flights, with the first 2 units arriving at RAAF Base Richmond on 30 July 2023 and 1 unit arriving on 04 August 2023. On both occasions, the delivery was made using a C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the US Air Force.

The Australian Army intends to replace its troubled MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, one of which was involved in a fatal crash that killed 4 Australian Army personnel just days before the arrival of the first two Black Hawk helicopters.

40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters are being acquired under a deal worth around A$2.79 billion (US$1.82 billion). The ”M” variant is the latest utility variant in production by Sikorsky Aircraft and is also being delivered to the US Army.

The Australian Army, and prior to that the Royal Australian Air Force, already had prior experience in maintaining and operating the Black Hawk helicopters, as it previously had 39 S-70A-9 Black Hawks  that has been in operation since 1987 as replacements for the Vietnam War-era Bell UH-1 Huey,. 

The S-70A-9 helicopters, together with other ageing helicopters like the Royal Australian Navy’s Westland Sea King and other remaining Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters were replaced by the MRH-90 Taipan starting in 2007. But the helicopter was proven to be problematic in Australian service, with poor serviceability and was involved in several crashes over its 15 years of service.

Sikorsky is expected to deliver more helicopters in the coming months, with the Australian Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment based in Oakey, and the 8th Aviation Regiment based in Holsworthy.

Aside from the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Navy operates the Black Hawk-based MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopters, which allows maximizing the utilization of support from Sikorsky Australia.

[1] Australia Defence Magazine

[2] Janes

No comments:

Post a Comment