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Australia seeking to rebuild army's tactical airlift capability

The Australian Army has not had a fixed-wing support capability since its Beechcraft King Air 350 light utility aircraft were transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in 2009. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian government has sought to lease two fixed-wing aircraft to rebuild the Australian Army's tactical airlift and support capability.

In an expression of interest (EOI) issued on 13 July, designated as FCOMD/EOI/37171/1 (Army Aviation General Fixed Wing Support), the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) has said it seeks to lease two aircraft.

According to the document, the platforms being considered are single-engine aircraft, which have the “ability to carry small loads (less than 10 people or 1,000 kg cargo) efficiently”. Some of the aircraft considered are the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, the Daher Kodiak 100/900, and the Pilatus PC-12.

A critical requirement is the ability of the aircraft to conduct short take-offs and landings (STOLs). The aircraft will also be expected to operate from “unprepared airstrips in austere environments”, including Northern Australia, the EOI stated.

The document adds that the aircraft may be deployed at an airfield in the South-East Queensland region. Consequently, the aircraft are required to have the range and speed to rapidly deploy from primary Australian bases to secondary locations within the country and in the region.

The DoD expects to lease the aircraft for a period of 18–24 months, starting from late 2023. The aircraft are to be available from early 2024, the document added. The EOI includes a provision for extension of the lease and for increasing the number of aircraft.

“In order to allow full evaluation of Army's capability requirements, the two aircraft may be different types,” the DoD said in the document.

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