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UK leases unrequired H135 helicopters to Australia for training

The UK has leased to Australia five H135 helicopters that will be used for training. (Crown Copyright)

The United Kingdom has leased to Australia five Airbus H135 Juno helicopters to be used for pilot training.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced the arrangement on 7 February, saying the helicopters will arrive in-country later in 2024 alongside ongoing deliveries of 40 newly ordered Lockheed Martin UH-60M Black Hawks.

“To support essential training requirements for army aircrew, Australia will procure five H135 Juno training helicopters from the United Kingdom,” the DoD said. “Operations [are] expected to commence in Oakey, Queensland, by mid-year. The planned lease length is for five years.”

Australia already operates 15 H135s (acquired as EC135T2+), which are operated for the Australian Defence Force's Helicopter Aircrew Training System.

The additional H135 helicopters have been in storage in the UK since its Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered them in February 2022. The MoD declined to say what the purpose of these helicopters was at the time, but it later emerged that they have been acquired for use in Northern Ireland under Project ‘Matcha', although this operational requirement never materialised. These five helicopters were bought in addition to the 29 H135s used for the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme.

The light-utility H135 has accommodation for seven (including two flight crew) in its standard configuration, and boasts a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 2,980 kg, a maximum payload of 1,360 kg, a top speed of 140 kt (259 km/h; 161 mph), a range of 342 n miles (633 km; 393 miles) with standard fuel and at normal MTOW, and an endurance of 3 hours 35 minutes.

For more information on the H135, see Airbus Helicopters H135

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