MRH-90 Taipan ultimatum.

In a unified statement, Simon Birmingham, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andrew Hastie, the Shadow Minister for Defence, and David Fawcett, the Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade, have issued a clear ultimatum.

“The Albanese government must promptly elucidate its reasons for disregarding new evidence and direct Defence to halt the decommissioning of Australia’s MRH-90 Taipan helicopters,” the joint declaration asserted.

“Labor has offered various justifications for Australia’s inability to supply the Taipans to Ukraine, including assertions that it’s too late in the dismantling process to fulfill the request, concerns about the safety of the aircraft, and doubts about their suitability due to low availability.

“However, evidence presented during Senate estimates on February 14th contradicts these claims, revealing that the Taipans are indeed safe, some helicopters have not been extensively stripped, and our close allies in New Zealand demonstrate the successful operation of a reliable fleet.

“This evidence suggests that it may still be possible to pause the dismantling process and provide the helicopters to Ukraine, aligning with Ukraine’s request and offers of assistance from our allies.

“Despite the debunking of Labor’s narrative, Defence officials, during the hearing, were unable to identify who within the department provided the advice.

“What we are witnessing is a dysfunctional and confused government, unaware that the helicopters could potentially be supplied to Ukraine and lacking the resolve to direct Defence to reconsider its approach.

“The opposition urges the government to acknowledge that it’s not too late to halt the dismantling of some remaining Taipans and to consult with European allies and industry partners to explore the feasibility of meeting Ukraine’s request.”

The joint statement condemned the decision to decommission the helicopters as emblematic of weak leadership, indecisiveness, and a lack of accountability within the federal government.

The ADF MRH-90 Taipan helicopter fleet was initially grounded late last year following a series of accidents. A helicopter crashed during Exercise Talisman Sabre in July 2023, another ditched during a training exercise in March 2023, flying operations were suspended in June 2021, and a tail rotor problem was identified in 2019.

Efforts by NATO Helicopter Industries to find buyers, including a request from Ukraine in December 2023, were unsuccessful.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles emphasized the government’s commitment to supporting Ukraine but explained that the Taipans were not suitable for the conflict Ukraine is facing.



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One comment

  • Russell Linwood February 21, 2024   Reply →

    When did Marles and Albo become experts on what helos can and can’t do?

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