18 June, 2024
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French helicopters cut for US Black Hawks

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Australia has spoken to France after ditching their Taipan helicopters for new US-built Black Hawks.

Defence Minister Richard Marles confirmed Australia’s army will get 40 UH-60M Black Hawks helicopters, with delivery starting later this year.

It’s another testing moment for relations between the countries, after Australia reneged on a deal to buy French submarines in 2021 to pursue the AUKUS security pact and nuclear-power submarines instead.

But Mr Marles said Labor had learned lessons from the former coalition government and treated France with full transparency.

“It’s definitely not a surprise … they’ve appreciated the upfront way in which we’ve gone about making this decision,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“We’ve worked closely with them in relation to it.”

The defence minister said the Taipan helicopters were presenting maintenance problems, requiring the technological upgrade.

“We’re confident the Black Hawks are a platform we’re familiar with,” he said.

“We have a really good proven track record in terms of their reliability and getting hours out of them and so we think it will be a platform which provides this capability in the way we need for the Australian Army.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton added his support to the decision.

“It’s necessary equipment for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force and the sooner we get them, the better,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

Head Land Capability Major General Jeremy King said the Black Hawks were crucial to protecting Australian sovereignty.

“They will support the deployment of our troops and their equipment where they are needed in times of crisis … the Black Hawk is a reliable, proven and mature platform supported by a robust global supply chain,” he said.

“This acquisition will mean we can continue to defend Australia and respond in times of need in a safe and effective way for years to come.”

– AAP

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