NH90 / MRH 90 Taipan failed – Australia wants back Black Hawk helicoptersOct 5, 2020
CANBERRA, (BM) – Australia sent a request for quotation regarding the price and availability of helicopters for special forces Sikorsky HH-60W or MH-60M Black Hawk under the FMS program, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
This decision indicates that the currently used MRH90 Taipan (local designation NH90) delivered to special forces last year did not meet their needs. These machines replaced the age old Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk in the 6th Aviation Regiment.
Currently, the 6th Aviation Regiment is carrying out tasks supporting the activities of the Australian Army Special Operations Command with the use of 12 MRH90 helicopters adapted to this type of operation, which, after modification and major repairs, were delivered to this unit last year.
The first two helicopters were delivered on February 1, 2019 and in the following months they successively replaced the last S-70A Black Hawk helicopters in the Australian army. The goal was to unify the Australian Defense Forces’ helicopter fleet, which in 2006 decided to acquire 34 MRH90 Taipan machines to replace both the Black Hawks and the Navy’s Westland Sea King machines.
The willingness to buy the Sikorsky MH-60M machines or the newest HH-60W machines is due to the negative assessment of the 6 Avn personnel of the MRH90 machines in the role of support for special forces. Although the machines have a greater range, speed, payload and flight duration than the Black Hawks, there were problems with interoperability with allied forces and issues such as the appropriate attachment of weapons for side shooters or rope landing systems.
The possible purchase of a version of the Black Hawk helicopter intended for special forces is not only a return to the 2018 concept, when instead of the adapted MRH90, the purchase of new MH-60M was planned. Together with the expected decision to purchase the Boeing AH-64E Apache attack machines by Australia, this is a clear shift towards the US, both in terms of purchasing and increasing interoperability, which may be associated with mounting pressure in the region from China.
It is also not without significance that Australia can count on the latest HH-60W helicopters as an important ally in the region in the event of such purchases. Based on the UH-60M / V Black Hawk, the most modern one used by the US Army, the airframes are yet to be used by US Special Forces. Currently, the last phases of flight tests and weapon certification are being carried out.
Boeing unveiled a prototype of semi-autonomous UAV for Australian Air Force
Boeing Corporation has rolled out a prototype of a promising unmanned aircraft for fighter aircraft. Soon they should begin ground tests of the complex as we reported this year.
A promising unmanned vehicle was presented by the Australian division of the aircraft manufacturing and defense giant. The roll-out ceremony was held on May 5.
The development of Loyal Wingman is commissioned by the Australian Air Force. The device will be able to carry out the commands of the fighter pilot, operating in a semi-autonomous mode.
According to plans, ground tests should take place this year, and then Boeing plans to begin flight tests. In the future, a serial vehicle created on the basis of the prototype will expand the capabilities of manned fighters.
The drone should get wide combat capabilities. They want to provide him with removable bow compartments 2.6 meters long: the UAV will be able to carry additional weapons or surveillance systems, depending on the task.
Recall, recently Boeing conducted the first flight tests of the F-15QA fighter designed for the Qatar Air Force. The corporation itself then called the aircraft the “most advanced” member of the F-15 family.
Australia is arming itself
According to the recently announced documents regarding changes in the planning of Australia’s defense system since 2020, the country has increased its planned defense spending from approximately USD 135 to USD 187 billion.
Additional funds will be allocated in the coming decade for modernization but also for the acquisition of completely new units.
The previous amount was a forecast from the Australian White Paper of 2016. Since then, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the change on July 1, the world has become “poorer, more dangerous and disordered.”
In particular, he pointed to the People’s Republic of China, which has now led to irritations with almost all of its neighbors. Against this background, the relationship of this country with more distant Australia does not look better, especially since Canberra is now very assertively criticizing the PRC, growing almost to enemy number 1.
Increased expenses are to serve to increase Australia’s presence in the region at risk of potential conflict, as well as to improve its partnership with the countries lying there.
For this purpose, two additional multi-purpose supply ships are to be purchased, “up to eight” anti-mine and hydrographic units based on Arafura patrol ships, the planned number of which has been increased from three to four. In addition, six Cape patrol boats are to be purchased. New landing vehicles are also to be purchased.
Development plans also include increasing the fleet of C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft and Airbus C-30A MRTT air refueling, which are currently in service with 12 and six units respectively.
The ability to keep the enemy away from Australia and projecting strength away from the home infrastructure are to be increased. In this context, investments in submarines and advanced impact systems are mentioned.
As for the former, the continuation of the new Attack submarine is announced, which is to be obtained in as many as 12 copies. Six currently serving Collins-type ships are to be maintained, to be modernized. The purchase of nine Hunter frigates is also to be continued.
In addition, the new integrated surveillance system is expected to increase the ability to detect underwater threats on approaches to the Australian continent. And the Jindalee radar network (JORN) is also to be developed to include approaches to the east coast of Australia.
The investments are also to include new sea mines, the successor to the large patrol boat of the Australian Coast Guard ADV Ocean Protector and a new vessel to support possible allied operations in the Pacific. This also promises to introduce modernization to both Canberra-type landing helicopters, which can be seen as a desire to adapt them to take on board short-take fighter jets and vertical landing F-35B.
When it comes to advanced striking systems, first of all, the purchase of new long-range aircraft anti-ship missiles AGM-158C LRASM from the US. For now, it has not been said how many copies of this weapon were purchased, but the estimated cost of this purchase is as yet USD 553 million, and therefore it will be a large purchase, especially since this weapon is to replace the fully used currently used AGM-84 Harpoon missiles, increasing the range destruction from 124 to 370 km.
Australian Super Hornets are to start moving LRASMs next year and all 24 machines of this type will be integrated with them. Initial operational readiness is expected to be achieved in 2023. Australian F-35 is also to be integrated with LRASM, the acquisition of which is to be continued until it reaches 72 copies.
Their purchases are to be accompanied by the acquisition of modern weapons with a larger range and greater efficiency. Drone accompanying them, which are now being developed on behalf of Australia together with Boeing under the name Loyal Wingman, are also to be bought.
Purchases are also to include reconnaissance and surveillance drone from the MQ-9B Sky Guardian and MQ-4C Triton programs. Purchases of electronic combat aircraft MC-55A Peregrine and marine patrols P-8A Poseidon will be continued. The E-7A Wedgetail and F-18G Growler early warning aircraft will be sought after. It is possible that F-35 will also perform in the latter role.
The investments will also include programs for future weapons: hypersonic missiles, advanced systems systems for aircraft. Australia also wants to increase its self-sufficiency in the conduct of armed conflict. This is to be achieved by further increasing own industrial capabilities, expanded weapon and fuel storage facilities.
The improvement of the ability to respond to hybrid threats will in turn cover issues related to cybersecurity (as well as “offensive capabilities” in the field of cyber), development of special forces, strengthening reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, including those conducted through satellites.
The Australian Land Army is expected to receive active defense systems that will be installed on Hawkei and Bushmaster armored vehicles. Two regiments of self-propelled howitzers will be purchased (previously planned to acquire one), which are to be built in their own industry.
The purchase of self-propelled artillery is significant because today the Australian Army has only towed howitzers M777. The successor to the M1A1 Abrams tanks will also be introduced, but these vehicles will be upgraded sooner. In addition, purchases of Boxer reconnaissance transporters replacing ASLAV and the program of the future BWP will be continued.
Purchases of unmanned ground vehicles and a wide spectrum of anti-tank weapons are planned (talked about directed energy systems and “smart” mines, alongside the already purchased pp. Spike LR2). The striking capabilities of army aviation, reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence, electronic warfare and network-centric command will also be developed.
In addition, the support that the armed forces will be able to give to civil authorities in the area of response to crises such as natural disasters or medical care will be strengthened, which in the current situation is quite understandable.