Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed Australia will spend $8 billion on its new fleet of 29 AH-64E Apaches alongside 12 additional Romeos.
The rubber-stamping of the purchase, first mooted in January 2021, came alongside a commitment to spend $360 million for base upgrades at HMAS Albatross to accommodate the helicopters, which will start to arrive in 2025.
PM Morrison said the investment is vital for guaranteeing Australian safety.
“Our world and our region are changing but we’re investing a record $270 billion in the defence and security of Australia over the decade to 2030,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“Australia and our region is now in the midst of the most consequential and challenging strategic realignment since the Second World War.
“But these investments don’t just support the Australian Defence Force, they support local jobs and skills right here.
“The more than $8 billion we’re investing in helicopters and facilities means 290 new jobs on the ground for electricians, mechanics and engineers to support their maintenance, along with hundreds more jobs in the small business supply chain that supports these fleets.
“A safe and secure Australia also means a strong economy and a stronger future for defence industry jobs.”
In total, around $5.5 billion will be spent on the Apaches – brought in to replace the beleaguered Tigers – and the rest on the Romeos.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton continued, noting that both systems were proven and will help Australia overcome threats.
“We’re expanding the size and capability of our helicopters to meet the threats Australia faces,” Minister Dutton said.
“We’re following the 2020 Force Structure Plan that outlined the need to expand our naval operations in particular and the Romeo fits that role as a next-generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter and can also assist with search and rescue and transport like they have during recent bushfires and floods.
“The Apache is a proven and reliable attack helicopter which is already in use by the United States government and United Kingdom, and has improved sensors, communications and networking systems, attack capabilities and survivability.”
The Prime Minister’s plan comes nearly a year after the US State Department approved the sale of 29 Apaches to the Australian government alongside spare parts, training and operational equipment.
The deal consisted of 29 AH-64E Apache Helicopters with a number of spare parts for ongoing maintenance and sustainment of the aircraft.
Additional sale items include 64 T700-GE 701D engines, of which six will be held as spare by the ADF, 29 pilot night vision sensors and radar frequency interferometers, 16 fire control radars, 70 GPS units, 35 missile warning systems and 85 Hellfire missiles.
The US State Department has confirmed that there will be numerous other training aids and operational tools included in the deal.
According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale of the Apache to the Australian government will support strengthened interoperability between the US and Australia.