Canberra, Sep 29 (IANS) The Australian Defence Force’s fleet of MRH-90 Taipan helicopters have been retired early following a fatal crash.
The Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, and Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy on Friday announced that the Taipans will not return to flying operations before their planned withdrawal date of December 2024, Xinhua news agency reported.
It comes after four Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were killed in July when their MRH-90 crashed into the ocean off the coast of the state of Queensland during a military training exercise.
“The government’s highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people,” Marles said in a joint statement with Conroy.
“We continue to support the families of the four soldiers who lost their lives earlier this year, and the broader Defence community,” said the minister.
The first of a fleet of 40 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters that will replace the Taipans have arrived in Australia.
Four crew were flying on board a MRH-90 near Hamilton Island – 900 km north of Brisbane – on the night of July 28 as part of Exercise Tasman Sabre 2023 when the helicopter ditched into the ocean.
In March, the fleet was temporarily grounded when 10 ADF personnel were rescued from the ocean off the coast of New South Wales (NSW) after their Taipan crash during counterterrorism training exercises.
Investigations into both incidents remain ongoing.