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Taipans get the chop as Australia opts for US helicopters in future

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Australia will scrap its entire fleet of Taipan defence helicopters and instead use US Black Hawks and Seahawk models.

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The decision will see the Army and Navy replace the 47 European-designed Taipans at a cost of $7 billion.

It’s expected Australia will bring in 40 of the US helicopters for use.

The Taipans had been beset with a large number of groundings and availability issues.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the decision was a necessary one.

“The Black Hawk made perfect sense, they are much cheaper to fly than what the Taipans were, the Taipans have been unreliable,” Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.

“By bringing in up to 40 new Black Hawks, it gives us a capability, we will maintain our edge in the region.”

Dutton said the new defence helicopters would allow Australian defence troops to work closely with US forces.

He said the new helicopters would bring Australian forces closer in line to US equipment, given the instability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The men and women of the ADF are excited about the prospect of a new platform that is going to be reliable,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can get them online sooner rather than later.”

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the Black Hawks were a fantastic platform but took issue with a large number of recent defence procurement problems.

“I have to say, Taipans, Tigers (also a type of helicopter), future submarines, a lot is being scrapped,” he told the Nine Network.

“If you take a step back, defence procurement in this country is a mess, there’s no getting around that.”

The Taipans have been in use in Australia since 2007 and were due to be withdrawn from service in 2037.

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