Australia grounds NH-90 helicopters ahead of early retirement

Australian Department of Defence

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has announced that its NH-90 helicopters, known locally as MRH-90 Taipan, will not return to flying operations in advance of their planned withdrawal date in December 2024.  

This decision comes in the wake of an incident in July 2023 when an MRH-90 Taipan crashed near Lindeman Island, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre, killing four crew members. The investigation into the crash is still ongoing. 

In December 2021, the Australian Department of Defence decided to replace the Army’s fleet of 41 MRH-90 Taipan with 40 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The first three Black Hawk helicopters arrived in Australia earlier this month and have already commenced flying operations. 

“To help mitigate further impacts on Army’s operations and training, the Government has been exploring options to accelerate the delivery of Black Hawks to Australia and for aircrew training with our international partners,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that efforts are being made to transition MRH-90 workers to support the Black Hawk program and other helicopters. 

The Australian Army operated the first version of the Black Hawk, the S-70A-9, from 1986 to 2021. 

Australia is also expecting the delivery of new AH-64E Apache helicopters starting in 2025, to replace the Eurocopter EC665 Tiger attack helicopters. 

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