Prime Minister Scott Morrison has detailed plans for an additional 12 new MH-60R Romeo maritime helicopters and 29 new AH-64E Apache Armed Reconnaissance helicopters to join Australia’s Navy and Army.
In a contract valued at more than $2.5 billion, the Government will expand the Navy's maritime helicopter fleet with an additional 12 MH-60R Romeos to be acquired and based at HMAS Albatross, along with a 13th to replace one lost in 2021.
The Government has also set aside up to $360 million to expand facilities at HMAS Albatross to house the expanded fleet, which will replace the Navy’s existing Taipan fleet.
PM Morrison also confirmed that the Government has finalised a more than $5.5 billion investment to acquire and operate 29 new AH-64E Apaches helicopters for the Army, replacing Army’s existing Tiger helicopters, with an additional investment of up to $500 million to upgrade facilities to support the new Apaches.
“Our world and our region are changing but we’re investing a record $270 billion in the defence and security of Australia over the decade to 2030,” the PM Morrison said in a press release.
“Australia and our region is now in the midst of the most consequential and challenging strategic realignment since the Second World War.
“But these investments don’t just support the Australian Defence Force, they support local jobs and skills right here.
“The more than $8 billion we’re investing in helicopters and facilities means 290 new jobs on the ground for electricians, mechanics and engineers to support their maintenance, along with hundreds more jobs in the small business supply chain that supports these fleets."
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said the Romeos and Apaches were proven helicopters that would deter and respond to the threats Australia faced.
“We’re expanding the size and capability of our helicopters to meet the threats Australia faces,” Minister Dutton said.
“We’re following the 2020 Force Structure Plan that outlined the need to expand our naval operations in particular and the Romeo fits that role as a next generation submarine hunter and anti-surface warfare helicopter, and can also assist with search and rescue and transport like they have during recent bushfires and floods.
“The Apache is a proven and reliable attack helicopter which is already in use by the United States Government and United Kingdom, and has improved sensors, communications and networking systems, attack capabilities and survivability.”
The Romeos and Apaches are expected to be delivered from 2025.