Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare have announced that the Project Air 9000 Phase 2, 4 and 6 programs to provide Army and Navy with 46 new MRH 90 helicopters to replace Black Hawk and Sea King machines respectively has been added to Government’s projects of concern list.
Despite reaching an agreement with prime contractor Australian Aerospace on a remediation plan for the project on November 24, the recommendation by Acting CEO of the DMO, Warren King that the project be put on the list has been accepted by the Ministers. In a statement, the Ministers said the project is running late primarily due to significant technical issues which have triggered early indicators and warnings thresholds for schedule and contractor performance, resulting in delays of about two years, and there remains a risk that the program will be further delayed.
In April this year, the project underwent a comprehensive independent diagnostic Gate Review which recommended a remediation strategy which was agreed to by Australian Aerospace, followed by a second review in September.
With its Sea Kings due to retire in December, Navy has undertaken to generate an additional flight from its already stretched Seahawk fleet to cover any capability short falls, while Army’s Black Hawk fleet will also be extended.