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Update: Australia confirms acquisition of 40 UH-60Ms for army

The retirement of Australia's older-generation S-70A-9 Black Hawks in 2021, such as the aircraft pictured here, reduced the transport capabilities of the Australian Army. The earlier Black Hawks were used for special forces operations, flood relief, and other logistical duties. Canberra sees the acquisition of UH-60Ms as a return to a familiar, tested platform. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian government has confirmed that it is proceeding with the acquisition of 40 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Australian Army.

The announcement, on 18 January, comes four months after the US Department of State approved the sale of the 40 helicopters and related equipment under Foreign Military Sales (FMS). The estimated cost of the deal in September 2022 was AUD2.79 billion (USD1.95 billion). A spokesperson of the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) told Janes that “the total cost to acquire the Black Hawk is expected to be around USD3 billion”.

Delivery of the Black Hawk helicopters will commence from 2023, the DoD added.

The acquisition of the aircraft will allow the Australian Army to divest its Airbus MRH-90 Taipan helicopter fleet. The Australian Army currently faces a capability deficit as its older-generation S-70A-9 Black Hawks ceased operational service with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in December 2021.

During an interview with ABC News on 18 January, Defence Minister Richard Marles acknowledged that “we've just not got the flying hours out of the Taipan that we would need”.

He added, “We're confident that we can get that from the Black Hawks. It's a platform we're familiar with.”

Major General Jeremy King, head Land Capability, described the UH-60Ms as an “important” acquisition to “meet the strategic needs of the Australian Army”.

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