The Australian government is buying 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Australian Army, with deliveries starting this year.
The government announcement on the purchase follows the US State Department approval for the $1.95 billion sale of the helicopters to Australia in August 2022.
Head Land Capability Major General Jeremy King, CSM, said this was an important acquisition which will meet the strategic needs of the Australian Army.
“The Black Hawk capability will be a crucial element for us to protect Australia’s sovereignty, and deliver foreign policy objectives, including providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Major General King said.
“The Black Hawk will support the deployment of our troops and their equipment where they are needed in times of crisis. The Black Hawk is a reliable, proven and mature platform supported by a robust global supply chain.
The Black Hawks will be replacing the Airbus-built Taipan fleet, which are being phased out a decade earlier than planned. The Taipan helicopters, 41 of which were in service at the time the decision was made, did not met contracted availability requirements nor the expected cost of ownership, the government said in December 2021.
Australia was already forced to lease two Leonardo AW139 helicopters from a private operator to augment the low availability of the MRH90 Taipan fleet.
The new Black Hawk will operate from Oakey, QLD and Holsworthy, NSW, according to a defense ministry announcement.
Australian industry will be involved in logistic support, warehousing services, training development and engineering services, as well in the aircraft’s global supply chain.
The UH60 Black Hawk that Australia is now looking to buy is the most widely used utility helicopter variant in the world. The UH60M is the latest fielded version and has been in service with the US Army and other nations for over a decade. The US Army is currently receiving the UH-60V variant, which will introduce an upgraded digital glass cockpit, certified GPS RNAV database and advanced flight planning and mission capability.
It is worth noting that the Australian Army has already operated the S-70A-9 variant of the Black Hawk helicopter, the last of which was retired in a ceremony in December 2021. Prior to that, the government advertised the sale of the fleet, but a definitive decision on the fate of the helicopters is yet to be announced.