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US accelerates Black Hawk delivery to Australia

written by Robert Dougherty | November 1, 2023

Australian Army soldiers from the 6th Aviation Regiment prepare to move an Australian Army UH-60M Black Hawk to its hangar following its arrival on a US Air Force C-17A Globemaster at RAAF Base Richmond, NSW. (Image: CPL John Solomon/Defence)

The US Defense Department is accelerating delivery of UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to Australia, following meetings between representatives from both countries this month.

Black Hawk helicopters are replacing Australia’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopters following the crash of an MRH-90 in Queensland during Exercise Talisman Sabre on 28 July and the subsequent grounding of the aircraft.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III at the Pentagon on 31 October to discuss the United States–Australia alliance, the Black Hawk transfer, and other foreign policy topics.

“The future of our relationship, and especially our defence cooperation, looks brighter than ever. We share a vision with our friends across the Indo-Pacific of a region that is free, open, and secure. And we’re committed to making that vision a reality,” US Secretary Austin said.

Australia and the US face shared challenges such as destabilising actions and China in the Indo-Pacific region, Austin said.


Australian Deputy PM Marles said Australia is enormously grateful to the United States for speeding the delivery of the Black Hawks.

“This is something that we really appreciate, and is again, an example of America standing up in a moment which we really need it,” he said.

Both leaders affirmed their commitment to further deepen defence cooperation, including through defence technology collaboration, force posture initiatives, and the trilateral AUKUS partnership with the United Kingdom. They also celebrated recent announcements on historic cooperation between Australia and Japan, exchanged views on shared security challenges, and discussed further alliance initiatives to support a free and open Indo-Pacific. The two leaders also surveyed the global security environment, sharing perspectives on the situations in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Earlier this year, three new US-built UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Australia to be operated by the Australian Army.

Two Lockheed Martin-built helicopters, transported by US Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport plane to RAAF Base Richmond in Sydney on 30 July, are part of an initial batch of a total 40-strong helicopter fleet ordered by the Australian Defence Force. A third UH-60M Black Hawk arrived on Friday, 4 August, also via US Air Force C-17, according to a Defence spokesperson.

Earlier this year, Defence and the Commonwealth confirmed the acquisition of 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, after approval was given from the US State Department for a US$1.95 billion purchase of the systems in August 2022.

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