Oz Leased AW139s For Army

The Leonardo AW139 helicopter leased for the Australian Army. Leonardo.

SHAH ALAM: Oz leased AW139s For Army. RMAF chief announced on Nov. 2 that the service will be introducing four leased Leonardo AW139s soon to cover the shortfall of helicopters following the unofficial retirement of the Nuris. Before anyone says that it is a bad move do take note that the Australian Army which is also leasing two AW139s. The leasing is to cover the troublesome MRH-90 Taipan helicopters in service with its Air Wing.

An Italian military HH-139A or AW139 equipped with specialised equipment. Wikipedia

From the Australian Defence Department.

Army’s aviation capability has been enhanced with two Leonardo AW139 helicopters joining the 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville. The two leased AW139s will be used to support Defence’s major exercises and training, and assist with emergency response activities including during the high-risk weather season.

The helicopters have similar performance to the MRH90 and will be used to support aircrew development and currency requirements when combat aircraft are not available. The contract with Helicorp Pty Ltd (Toll Helicopters), has met all milestones, with training, aircraft serviceability and flying-hour requirements exceeding expectations.

Commander Army Aviation Command Major General Stephen Jobson said the AW139 contract would ensure Army aircrew were ready for operational tasking.“The Army interim commercial helicopter capability will provide Army aircrew with flying proficiency and currency training on an advanced digital aircraft,” Major General Jobson said.

“Maintaining these advanced digital cognitive skills is essential for operating complex modern combat helicopters now and into the future.”

The contract for the two leased Leonardo AW139 helicopters covers training, maintenance, logistics and continuing airworthiness support. The initial contract ends on June 30, 2023, with options for two 12-month extensions.

Leonardo AW139
MMEA Leonardo AW139 landing onboard a ship. APMM

Like the Malaysian military, the Australian Army had also suffered due to unwise decisions made by its politicians. The Australian government had chosen the MRH-90 in 2006 (and subsequently the Tiger attack helicopters) over the recommendations of its military for the Army’s rotary wing requirements. The decision to lease the two helicopters was announced in May this year as the Australian Army grappled with the low availability of the trouble plagued Taipans.

— Malaysian Defence

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13 Comments

  1. If you read between the lines, those AW139 for Australian army will be used for

    1) SAR and MEDEVAC during exercises and abnormal weather situations.

    2) Aircrew currency and training

    It is not going to replace or even do what the MRH90 Taipans should be doing.

  2. @gonggok

    “It is not going to replace or even do what the MRH90 Taipans should be doing.”

    If so, then what helicopter in the current Australian Army that currently do those 2 tasks? Isn’t the said tasks were part of the MRH90 roles also? I may be wrong and that is why I asked. Thank you for any further replies.

  3. The cyclone season is coming to Townsville and North Qld. All indications are that this will be a bad season. There have already been bad storms further south in Central Qld.

  4. @Tom Tom
    Agreed. It’s going to be bad over in Central Qld. When bad weather hits Qld, it’s all hands on deck. The Taipans are supposed to be doing that, Evac and Supply included. If they proved troublesome, the leased Aw139s are a blessing. Aussies in the Outback are a hardy crowd, they get battered by cyclical bad weather year in and out but they persevere.
    BTW, Aussie politicians are just as bad as their Malaysian counterparts, if not worse! Look at the way their former PM Kevin Rudd was tipped out of office. Classic ‘et tu Brutus’ move!

  5. I don’t get the point of what was mentioned.

    The AW139s are clearly not intended to be a substitute per see but will enable some level of capabilty to be maintained until such a time when there is a direct substitute.

    Same applies to us.The AW139 simply does not have the lift capacity of a Nuri or a Cougar but is intended to fill in the gap the best it can as a temporary measure ..

  6. Taib – ”BTW, Aussie politicians are just as bad as their Malaysian counterparts,”

    Politicians are inherently the same the world over but at least in Australia there is open discourse and accountability; plus the mainstream and defence press actually questions authority.

  7. There is no accountability as well in Oz, thats why the MRH-90 and Tiger deals occurred even after the Seasprite debacle. And now there’s the navy deals…That said they have more money to cover up the holes, we simply have them up in the open

  8. Other cockups would include the Newport conversions and initial problems faced with the Collins. Yes they have more money but to me the vital thing is there there is discourse with policians, think tanks and the media asking the rights questions and questioning/challenging authority. It also helps that they have a more enlightened and discerning public.

    I was watching a very recent talk the Sing Defence Minister gave about his views on China, the U.S. and ASEAN. Would his Malaysian counterpart been as imforned or articulate enough to have done the same?

  9. “That said they have more money to cover up the holes”
    Exactly my sentiments about defence procurement elsewhere in the world. We aren’t the only ones that suffers from bad decisions, influences from selfish parties, and technical snafus. Just that in richer countries, they could afford to suffer failures and dig themselves out of it while we can’t.

  10. It isn’t just about money but also about objectively and apoltically indentifying where and how one goes wrong, as well as seeking a solution and trying to avoid a repetition. It’s also about non partisan discourse and questioning authority by asking the right/pertinent questions in order to rectify the problem.

  11. The Taipans had been in service for more than a decade and is too big an embarrassment for it to be publicly acknowledged to have failed. No doubt both sides are adamant not to stir this hornet’s nest as they might just find out their predecessors could have a role in this failure which will bounce back onto them. They will just keep plugging it until it gets better or else the fleet reaches a point whereby replacing it becomes politically viable ie Oz Tigers. It would be ironic if Oz Army were to ditch the Taipans and went back to Blackhawks albeit newer versions.

  12. “Would his Malaysian counterpart been as imforned or articulate enough to have done the same?”

    Perhaps, I guess we prefer to be in China’s good books as to maintain some sort of balance between US and China influence. My view is that SG is quite pro-US, and probably values its US relations more highly than to China and probably isn’t too concerned by any potential fallout arising from “frank” (as in unfavourable) remarks.

    What would be interesting to see if SG Def Minister presents his views in the same manner if the situation is reversed, i.e. if the US is behaving in the same as China is doing now.

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