New Naval Combat Helicopter

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25th February 2010, 07:43pm - Views: 1007

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Minister for Defence


Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science

Thursday, 25 February 2010


New Naval Combat Helicopter

The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, today announced that the

Government has given first pass approval for a major project to provide the

Australian Defence Force with a new naval combat helicopter. 

Project AIR 9000 Phase 8 is included in the Defence Capability Plan to provide naval

warships with a new combat helicopter.  

Senator Faulkner said that two potential helicopters had been identified. “The

Government has decided that the new helicopter will be either the Sikorsky-Lockheed

Martin built MH-60R sourced through the United States Navy, or the NATO

Helicopter Industries NH90 NFH sourced through Australian Aerospace”.

Senator Faulkner said that a competition would be held between the two helicopter

options which would be cost-capped by the Defence Materiel Organisation through

the tender process.

“The new naval combat helicopter will enhance the Royal Australian Navy’s ability to

conduct a range of maritime operations. It will be capable of undertaking anti-

submarine warfare and will be equipped with air-to-surface missiles,”

Senator Faulkner said.

“This fleet of combat helicopters will form the centerpiece of naval combat aviation to

beyond 2040.

“The new helicopter will greatly extend the eyes and ears of our surface fleet and

allow the conduct of combat and support operations in the complex and demanding

maritime environment.

“They will replace the current fleet of Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters

and fill an operational need left by the cancellation of the Seasprite project,” Senator

Faulkner said.

The procurement of the new naval combat helicopters as a matter of urgency was

announced in the 2009 Defence White Paper.  This decision demonstrates the

Government’s commitment to this important Defence capability. 

Sufficient helicopters will be acquired to provide at least eight helicopters

concurrently embarked on ships at sea, which under the White Paper requires a fleet

of 24 helicopters.

“The competitive process would commence in the next few months with the

Government making a final decision about the new helicopter in 2011,” Senator

Faulkner said. 

“This schedule will enable the new helicopters to be delivered from 2014.

“Any decision Government makes in 2011 will take into account all relevant

considerations including capability, cost, interoperability with other ADF capabilities,

Australian industry opportunities, risk and value for money,” Senator Faulkner said. 

The Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, Greg Combet, said that

the decision to progress the project via a competitive tender was consistent with the

Kinnaird and Mortimer procurement reforms. 

The tender will allow the companies to offer innovative solutions that satisfy the

capability, cost and schedule requirements and detail what opportunities they will

offer local industry.  

“A competitive process will ensure value for money for the tax payer and ensure the

project's acquisition strategy provides the Government with the best possible

information to support a decision for this vital capability,” Mr Combet said.

Media contacts:

Colin Campbell (John Faulkner):

02 6277 7800 or 0407 787 181

Defence Media Liaison:

02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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