Airbus Helicopters has joined forces with over 20 Australian companies and universities to form “Project Nightjar”. The team will look to develop a winning bid for LAND 2097 Phase 4 – an overhaul of the helicopter fleet relied on by ADF Special Operations.
In response to the Commonwealth of Australia’s request for proposal (RFP) for a four-tonne class, rapidly deployable, multi-role helicopter for the Australian Special Forces, Nightjar will be offering a fleet of the highly capable Airbus H145M. This will be bolstered by a robust in-country support framework.
Airbus Australia Pacific's managing director, Andrew Mathewson, called the H145M an "exemplar platform for light special operations", stating that the improved mobility and situational awareness it offers make it a complement to existing MRH90 Taipan aircraft. He adds that its compact size make it an optimal choice for operations within dense urban terrain and deployment via C-17A Globemaster.
“We recognise the importance of working with Australian companies on this program, with each partner offering niche capabilities to the Commonwealth. Building on our established commitment to Australian industry, Team Nightjar will have a strong focus on Australian industrial support and innovation,” said Mathewson.
Bringing together Australia’s best industry capabilities and academia, Nightjar members include:
- Cyborg Dynamics;
- Deakin University;
- Ferra Engineering;
- Helicopter Logistics;
- Kinetic Fighting;
- Kratos Australia;
- PREDICT Australia;
- QinetiQ Australia;
- Safran Helicopter Engines Australia;
- Seeing Machines;
- Sigma Bravo;
- TAFE NSW;
- Tagai Management Consultants;
- Toll Helicopters;
- University of Technology Sydney;
- Varley Group; and
- Varley Rafael Australia.
The teaming proposal will generate over $250 million of economic benefits and more than 170 Australian jobs.
“We believe these capabilities will greatly enhance the core offering of the very capable H145M helicopter, while providing local jobs, technology transfer and export opportunities," added Mathewson.
“The Commonwealth is seeking a proven, mature and highly reliable off-the-shelf platform and robust support systems. The H145M that we are proposing is the latest member of the H145 family, which has flown over 5.9 million hours with more than 1,400 aircraft in service globally across civil, parapublic and military domains. It is well supported by a mature global network.”
In terms of global adoption, the H145M is gaining popularity among defence forces worldwide, counting military forces in Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Serbia and Thailand as customers.
In particular, the H145M is today supporting special operations roles with the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) with mission readiness of above 99 per cent, delivering safety and superior power and payload.