Army Black Hawks farewell Townsville

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 19, 2014
Black Hawks fly over Townsville. (Defence)
Black Hawks fly over Townsville. (Defence)

The Army has marked the end of S-70A-9 Black Hawk operations from Townsville with a flyover of the northern Queensland city they have called home for the last 25 years.

Six Black Hawks and three examples of the helicopter it is being replaced by, the MRH 90 Taipan, flew over Townsville on Monday.

Black Hawks have been based at RAAF Base Townsville since late 1988, initially briefly operated by the RAAF’s 9SQN, which had relocated there from Amberley, before in early 1989 the battlefield helicopter role was transferred to the Army’s 5th Aviation Regiment.

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The Black Hawks of B Squadron, 5 Aviation Regiment are being replaced by the MRH 90, with the Black Hawks in turn being transferred to 6th Aviation Regiment based at Holsworthy near Sydney. 5 Aviation Regt’s A Squadron has already relinquished its Black Hawks for MRH 90s.

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10 Comments

  • Ron

    says:

    What are they going to do with the Blackhawks?

  • TomcatTerry

    says:

    Probably use out remaining useful hours on most. Some as training aids etc…not sure if any will be mothballed

  • Damian

    says:

    It’s a minor correction but I’m pretty sure (as a former NQ’er!) Blackhawks would not have been based in Townsville until at least 1988 (maybe 1989) rather than 1986 as the article states. A quick google search found a reliable source to back this up,

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Thanks Damian, you are correct. The story has been updated and corrected.

  • Blacky

    says:

    I love the yeah nah eh eh vague feeling i get when those big main rotor blades go whoop whoop whoop over my head!!

  • Blacky

    says:

    MIFFY!!!!!! Come back Miffy!!!

  • dave

    says:

    Does this mean the Army has declared initial operational capability for the NH-90?

  • Raymond

    says:

    Dave – no, it is a staged / progressive replacement. In this instance, it’s the Black Hawks of B Squadron, 5 Aviation Regiment that are being replaced by the MRH-90. I don’t think IOC can be declared until a project is removed from the official ‘Projects of Concern’ list.

    In April 2014, Defence informed the ANAO that the S‑70A‑9 Black Hawk fleet’s withdrawal from service commenced in January 2014 and is scheduled to be completed by June 2018.

    Navy and Army MRH-90 operational capability is also treated separately, with ‘Operational Capability milestones’. MRH-90 FOC is now not scheduled until April 2019.

    My opinion: buy (proven) American equipment where possible (the initial recommendation from Defence was for the S‑70M Black Hawk to be selected as the preferred aircraft here anyway).

  • Martin

    says:

    Raymond,
    Yes, ANAO report indicates Department’s recommendation was for the newer Black Hawk variant but they wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) have selected it on basis of country of origin if the decision was based on technical / cost merits alone. This only comes into it when there are political considerations, which perhaps also explains the decision to go for MRH-90 instead? Also, at what stage in its lifecycle does a piece of military equipment actually become ‘proven’? Plenty of miliary projects have struggled early in life then gone on to great success. Equally, plenty have smelled like roses to start with but have been failures in the long run. What Defence need is the ability to properly assess options based on sound methods of evaluation and employing technically proficient staff.

  • Darren

    says:

    Will miss the Blackhawks. I just like the way they look and sound.

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