Australia said on Friday it plans to dump its fleet of Airbus-designed military helicopters and replace them with US made Black Hawk and Seahawk choppers in what is the second European defence contract to be abandoned in favour of Washington.
Australia’s 47 Taipan helicopters were supposed to last until 2037 but have been plagued with problems.
Its defence forces will stop using them and buy 40 Lockheed Martin-designed helicopters in a switch that will cost A$7 billion ($4.8 billion).
The move comes less than three months after Australia cancelled a deal to buy French submarines, deciding instead to build nuclear-powered submarines that use US and British technology in a switch that angered Paris.
“The Taipans weren’t meeting their marks,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday. “And we want to make sure that our defence forces have the best possible equipment to defend this country, and the Black Hawks will provide that.”
He said the country’s National Security Committee took the decision.
“Australia has been lifting our effort when it comes to defending our nation and ensuring that our expenditure on defence is now over 2%.”
Morrison said Australia would continue to work with non-US defence contractors. “But in this case, sadly the Taipans didn’t do what we needed them to do, so we’ll get the things that we need to do it.”
- George Russell