In June 2006, Australian Minister of Defence the Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson announced that Government has approved an A$ 2 billion (USD $1.475 billion at current rates) buy of 34 more NH90 multi-role helicopters.
Australia had already signed a contract for 12 “MRH-90″ multi-role helicopters in June 2005 as additional troop lift for the Army, and delivery of that batch is scheduled from December 2007 – December 2009. These additional aircraft will bring the total MRH-90 fleet to 46. Initial deliveries of all MRH90s are still slated for December 2007, with 3 more MRH 90 delivered in 2008 and then 7-8 per year delivered until 2014. Deliveries of Australian-assembled helicopters will commence in December 2008. As these new helicopters are delivered, Australia’s old Sea Kings will be retired in 2010, followed by progressive replacement of the smaller S-70A-9 Black Hawks between 2011-2015.
Anticipated benefits from this consolidation into a single helicopter type include greater operational flexibility and efficiency through common operational, training and logistic systems and a capability to rotate personnel, aircraft, spare parts and role-specific equipment between troop lift, special operations and maritime support commitments. Some of the language and initiatives in the Minister’s statement may also have long-term implications for Australian procurement.