Concerns after army helicopters scrapped – The Canberra Times

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Labor has hit out at the government’s ability to acquire adequate defence equipment after it scrapped another multi-billion dollar contract.
Australia’s defence force will scrap its fleet of 47 European-designed Taipan defence helicopters and replace them with 40 Black Hawks and Seahawks from the US at a cost of $7 billion.
The government argues the American aircraft are better value and more reliable.
The Taipans have been used in Australia since 2007 and were due to be withdrawn from service in 2037. But they have been labelled unreliable, beset by groundings and availability issues.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles welcomed the announcement but took issue with the number of recent defence procurement problems.
“I have to say, Taipans, Tigers (helicopters), future submarines, a lot is being scrapped,” he told the Nine Network.
“When we see defence programs being turned over like this, it is billions of dollars wasted. If you take a step back, defence procurement in this country is a mess.”
Labor’s defence spokesperson Brendan O’Connor also hit out at the government saying other RAAF planes had been reclassified after it was determined they were not fit for battle and the frigate program was $10 billion over budget and years behind schedule.
“Labor has significant concerns about the way major contracts and assets have been managed and the effect this has on our sovereign defence capability,” he said.
“Under the Morrison-Joyce government, 25 major defence projects are running cumulatively 68 years late, meaning ADF personnel are not getting the equipment and platforms they need to do their jobs.”
Australia has also already spent billions on the French submarine program before its termination.
The contract’s cancellation will reportedly add $400 million in breakage costs.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison did not accept billions of dollars had been wasted, but did not elaborate when questioned by journalists.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton insists the decision is a necessary one.
“The Black Hawk made perfect sense. They are much cheaper to fly than what the Taipans were,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network.
“By bringing in up to 40 new Black Hawks … we will maintain our edge in the region.”
Mr Dutton said the new helicopters would bring Australia’s equipment closer in line with US equipment, given the instability in the Indo-Pacific.
“The men and women of the ADF are excited about the prospect of a new platform that is going to be reliable,” Mr Dutton said.
“Hopefully, we can get them online sooner rather than later.”
The scrapping of another defence program comes just weeks after Mr Dutton told the National Press Club the government would not hesitate to cut its losses and cancel underperforming contracts.
He said the government would have less tolerance for project lags as Australia continued its defence build-up.
Australian Associated Press
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