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Australia to retire MRH90 Taipan fleet early

The withdrawal of Australia's NHIndustries MRH90s from flight operations increases the burden on other army aviation rotary-wing assets, until adequate numbers of new Sikorsky UH-60Ms can be inducted into service. In this image, an MRH90 from the 5th Aviation Regiment prepares to land behind a CH-47F at Ingham Airport in Queensland in May 2022. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian government is permanently withdrawing its NHIndustries MRH90 ‘Taipan' fleet from flight operations.

The “MRH-90 Taipan helicopters will not return to flying operations before their planned withdrawal date of December 2024”, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 29 September.

The decision to withdraw the MRH90 fleet is being attributed to the amount of time required to close four separate investigations of the 28 July crash of an MRH90 near Lindeman Island during Exercise ‘Talisman Sabre', according to the DoD and Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles.

“As the government made clear at the time, [the army] would not fly this platform until investigations into that incident were complete,” the DoD said. “The advice provided to [the] government has outlined [that] these ongoing investigations are likely to continue well into 2024.”

The DoD added that the “announcement does not presuppose or [in] any way suggest the outcome of the investigations into the … incident on 28 July”.

The withdrawal of the 39 strong MRH90 fleet reduces the numerical strength of the Australian Army's rotary-wing forces by over a third, by 39.3%, Janes assesses. In the interim, “the Australian Defence Force [ADF] will continue to operate its [Boeing] CH-47F Chinooks, [Eurocopter] Tigers, and [Sikorsky] MH‑60R Seahawks”, the DoD said in a statement, adding that these helicopters are expected to “provide a robust and ready aviation capability”.

According to Janes

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