In Focus

Slaying Taipan: The ADF’s $3.7 billion problem

Australian Army pilot Captain Andrew Amos prepares to disembark the ARH Tiger helicopter

Defence’s long-troubled fleet of MRH-90 Taipan utility helicopters was finally retired in December after years of warnings that the program was haemorrhaging money with no results to show for it, Hannah Dowling writes.

In December 2021, the Australian Defence Force officially abandoned its entire fleet of 47 MRH-90 Tiapan helicopters, 16 years ahead of schedule, after spending nearly its entire $3.7 billion acquisition cost.  Once regarded as “an extraordinarily advanced helicopter” by Chief of Defence Force Angus Campbell, the locally-assembled Taipan fleet has been consistently plagued with operational and performance problems that has seen it deliver more than a decade of underwhelming results.

While no formal order has been placed, Defence has confirmed its intentions to replace the Taipan fleet with 40 Skirosky-built Black Hawks for Army and 12 Seahawks for Navy, to be purchased off-the-shelf from the US under its Foreign Military Sales program. The UH60 Black Hawk is considered the most widely-used military utility aircraft in the world, with a proven track record for reliability and cost-efficiency.

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