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Australia details Romeo, Apache helicopters acquisitions

Australia details acquisition costs of 12 MH-60Rs for the Royal Australian Navy. The aircraft will replace half a dozen MRH-90s in naval service. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian Government has detailed its plans to acquire an additional 12 new Sikorsky MH-60R Romeo and 29 new Boeing AH-64E Apache armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARHs).

In a statement on 9 May, Australia's ruling Liberal Party said it has invested more than AUD2.5 billion (USD1.76 billion) in the maritime helicopters, which will replace the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN's) existing NHIndustries/Airbus MRH-90 Taipan fleet. A 13th Romeo will also be acquired to replace an in-service MH-60 lost in 2021.

The Romeos and Apaches are scheduled to be delivered from 2025, the government said in a statement.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that AUD360 million has been set aside to expand facilities at HMAS Albatross where the aircraft will be based.

The navy operates six MRH-90s. The fleet was grounded for a period of time in 2019, after tail rotor vibration and delamination issues were reported.

The Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price, said in a statement that the acquisition of the 12 MH-60s will enhance the navy's efficiency.

β€œNavy already operates Romeo helicopters, and using a single type of helicopter for all maritime roles offers value for money and significant efficiencies through the use of common maintenance, training, and other sustainment services,” she said.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had approved the sale of the MH-60s in October 2021. The sale carried an estimated price tag of AUD1.39 billion. This covered spares, weapons launchers, training, mission equipment, and support.

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