Despite challenges with delivery and initial teething problems, the MRH-90 Taipan will: acquire an additional squadron of troop lift aircraft for the Australian Army under AIR 9000 Phase 2 (12 helicopters); replace Army’s Black Hawk helicopters in the Air Mobile and Special Operations roles under Phase 4 (28 helicopters); and replace Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopters in the Maritime Support Helicopter role under Phase 6 (six helicopters).
The Commonwealth of Australia ordered 46 MRH-90s from Australian Aerospace under Air 9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6 in a bid to rationalise the ADF’s helicopter platforms, resulting in reduced training and maintenance costs resulting from a uniform platform.
All three phases of the MRH procurement are grouped under the AIR 9000 MRH Program, with the key phases and dates outlined:
The MRH-90 Taipan is an advanced medium-lift, twin-engine, multi-role helicopter manufactured by Australian Aerospace, a unit of Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters).
The Taipan features an all-composite construction and incorporates crash-worthy capabilities based on MIL-STD-1290A. The structure offers protection up to a speed of 10m/s when landing gear is extended and up to 7m/s with retracted landing gear.
The helicopter is 16.13 metres long and 5.23 metres high, and has an empty weight of 6,400 kilograms and a maximum take-off weight of 10,600 kilograms. It is capable of conducting missions under difficult weather conditions.
It incorporates a large and spacious cabin at the centre fuselage, facilitating 20 troop seats or up to 12 stretchers. The crash-worthy seats accommodate a pilot, a co-pilot, two loadmasters and 18 combat troops. A sliding door is fitted on both sides of the cabin and a ramp is placed at the rear.
Being a true multi-role machine, the MRH90 can undertake troop transport, search and rescue, special operations and counter-terrorism missions.
As part of the Capability Assurance Program (CAP), the MRH-90 Program will ensure:
- 47 MRH-90 aircraft for Navy and Army;
- The MRH Software Support Centre;
- A ground mission management system;
- An electronic warfare self-protection support system;
- The MRH instrumentation system;
- Other training devices such as aircraft maintenance trainers, aircraft systems trainers, part task trainers; and
- Data, spares, support and test equipment.
When complete, the project will have delivered two airmobile squadrons, one special operations support squadron, one maritime support helicopter squadron and a training capability able to provide airmobile and maritime support to the ADF from land bases as well as key Navy surface ships.