Australia Will Acquire Special Operations Helicopters under the Project Land 2097 Phase 4
MELBOURNE, Australia, (BulgarianMilitary.com) – On 25 September, the Australian AusTender website published a request for information for special operations support helicopters. The RFI, for at least 16 helicopters, has been release by the Australian Department of Defense organization – Defense Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The new light aircraft for the Australian Army special forces support, are planned to be acquired under the not formally approved Project Land 2097 Phase 4 but their purchase has been considered by the Australian government as a priority for future investments in defense, according to the Defense White Paper, flagged in 2016.
Although, the RFI does not specifies the number of the helicopters to be purchased, it states that the respondents are required to estimate how many will be needed for the support of 16 aircraft online at any given time. In addition to “independent detachment” (four helicopters) in a yet-to-be-decided location and two deployable elements, the document also calls for online maintenance of four aircraft at the stated main base for operations Holsworthy. The delivery of new special operations support helicopters is scheduled to be completed in 2022. After that, they will become part of the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation Regiment, at Holsworthy, and its squadron of larger NHI MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, which are planned to replace the existing Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk, after the latter’s decommissioning in January 2019.
According to the information in the RFI’s cover letter, the project’s current exploratory phase refers to collecting information and proposals in order to inform concepts for the realization of the capability. A basic requirement for the new light helicopters is for them to be commercial or military already in service equipment. They also should feature size optimization capabilities in order to be used in densely populated urban environments, as well as to be rapidly deployed by the C-17A airlifters of the Royal Australian Air Force.
CASG also wants its new helicopters to be equipped with simple and proven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as to be able to reconfigure quickly between its roles to provide an air assault capability by small teams of special forces, fire support and general utility including using electro-optical sensors (ISR). The letter also says that the acquisition strategy is a subject of development and Government approval.
The major focus of the current RFI was at the exhibition Land Forces 2018, when several main helicopter manufacturers have declared their intentions to respond. One of them was Airbus Group Australia Pacific that said to bid its medium-sized military multirole H145M helicopter. At the same time, Bell’s business development director for Australia, Dan McQuestin revealed the company’s plans to offer the armed version of the popular 407GX civil helicopter – Bell 407GT. On the other hand, the vice president of global sales and marketing for Australia of Boeing Defense and Security, pointed out AH-6i Little Bird as their contender.
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Other possible competitors are expected to be Leonardo with the light twin-engine AW109 Trekker helicopter, the U.S. MD Helicopters with its next-generation armed scout-attack helicopter MD530G and Northstar Aviation with the 407MRH Lightning.
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Read more: Australia Has Started the ConsLand Forces 2018truction of a New Defense Satellite Ground Station in Kapooka
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Source: Australian Government’s procurement information system AusTender/Tenders.gov.au