Australia Signs S-70A Black Hawk Through-Life Support Contract
Fresh off of a 7-year contract with BAE Australia to maintain its S-70B-2 naval helicopters, Australia’s DoD is signing a shorter contract with the same firm to cover the Army’s S-70A Black Hawk fleet. The Black Hawks began service in 1986, and the 3-year, A$ 35 million ($31 million) S-70A maintenance contract has 5 one-year options that could extend the contract through to the helicopters’ expected withdrawal from service in 2017-2018.
Australia’s Black Hawks have been used domestically and in a number of international deployments, but their lack of full defensive systems has prevented deployment to dangerous conflict zones like Afghanistan…
The S-70A fleet will receive a partial protection suite by 2010, under revisions to “Project Echidna,” but the Black Hawk fleet will be replaced by the larger NH90-TTH (“MRH-90”). Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace has begun MRH-90 deliveries.
This new Black Hawk support contract continues the employment of nearly 100 local maintenance technicians and support personnel at the helicopters’ base in Townsville, but the new contract does shift some of the maintenance risk on to the contractor when compared with previous agreements.
In October 2009, Australian media reported allegations that breaches in regulations concerning maintenance sign-offs for Australia’s Black Hawk helicopter fleet had been covered up by Australia’s DoD, and led to the alleged unfair dismissal of 2 Sikorsky aircraft engineers responsible for raising safety concerns. Australian DoD | BAE Australia.