Australia NH90 A40 016 YMAV 25Feb15 Jan Gerrits 640Australian Army replacement programme

On 9 December 2021, the Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced that the Australian Army will retire the Airbus MRH90 Taipan 10 years earlier than originally planned. The Taipans will be replaced by new Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.

One day later, on 10 December 2021, the Australian Army officially retired the Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk.

The type was first introduced into the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in December 1987 as a replacement for the Vietnam era Bell UH-1H Iroquois. After the first eight Black Hawks were delivered to the RAAF, it was decided that the helicopter type would be transferred to the Australian Army.

In April 2021, the Australian Ministry of Defence (MoD) were planning to offer up to 27 S-70A-9 Black Hawks for sale as by then it prepares to retire the helicopter type by December 2022. This retirement date has now been brought forward.

Under Project AIR 9000 Phase 2, 4 and 6, the MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter was originally planned to replace the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) existing Black Hawk and Sea King helicopter fleets. The MRH 90 entered the Australian Army service in 2008 and, despite its speed, range, and troop capacity performance advantages over the Black Hawk, has been plagued with poor availability and a number of fleet-wide groundings in Australian service due to a lack of spares and configuration management issues.

Australia Black Hawk Gavin Hughes AirHistory 480The Australian Army received 47 MRH90s. The first four MRH90s were completed in Europe. The remaining 43 aircraft have been assembled at Australian Aerospace’s Brisbane plant. The final aircraft delivery was in July 2017.

According to Minister Peter Dutton, “The performance of the MRH90 Taipan has been an ongoing and well-documented concern for Defence and there has been a significant effort at great expense to try to remediate those issues.” “It is critically important there is a safe, reliable and capable utility helicopter available for our service men and women into the future, with reasonable and predictable operating costs."

Photos by Jan Gerrits (Scramble Archive) and Gavin Hughes (

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