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Apache begins ADF trials on HMAS Canberra

written by Robert Dougherty | February 25, 2023

Australia is trialling an Apache attack helicopter on the HMAS Canberra in Sydney.

The iconic American twin-turboshaft attack helicopter started compatibility trials aboard the landing helicopter dock ship on 22 February.

The Apache is the primary attack helicopter of numerous nations, including America, Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

It hosts an armament of Hydra-70 rockets, hellfire, air-to-ground or air-to-air missiles and a 30mm cannon.


Australia is expected to replace its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters with AH-64E Apache Guardians.

Twenty-nine helicopters will be purchased with a scheduled fleet of 12 operational helicopters in 2026 and the full complement by 2028.

HMAS Canberra commanding officer Captain Jace Hutchison said the helicopter could become a major asset for the ADF.

“The Apache is the next stepping-stone (for the Australian Defence Forces) because the Australian Army is going to be purchasing that aircraft,” he said.

“It’s going to be the attack helicopter first strike for the ADF and it needs to operate from the landing helicopter dock.”

US military, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force were present onboard the ship to oversee the trial.

It comes after Defence confirmed in January it would purchase 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters following months of speculation.

Australia initially received approval from the US State Department for a US$1.95 billion purchase of the systems in August 2022.

However, new federal Defence Minister Richard Marles raised doubts about the deal and told the media Australia had only made a “fuzzy commitment” that would be subject to a review process.

Months on, Head Land Capability Major General Jeremy King confirmed the acquisition of the asset, announcing that the systems will enable the Australian Army to meet their strategic objectives.

Delivery of the systems are scheduled to commence this year, with the Black Hawks operating from Oakey, Queensland and Holsworthy, NSW.

They are expected to be maintained by a blended workforce, which includes local industry contractors operating across logistics, warehousing, training and development services.

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