TechAustralia mulls over transferring MRH-90 helicopters to Ukraine despite technical concerns

Australia mulls over transferring MRH‑90 helicopters to Ukraine despite technical concerns

Australian MRH-90 Taipan helicopters
Australian MRH-90 Taipan helicopters
Images source: © X | @top_force

1:19 PM EST, January 24, 2024

A few days ago, Australian Defense Minister Pat Conroy stated that the request from the Ukrainians for the transfer arrived too late, three months after the start of their disposal process. However, Asia Pacific Defense Reporter suggests otherwise, implying that not all Australian politicians had given the matter due consideration.

Ukrainian Request for MRH-90 Taipan

In early October 2023, Australian Senator David Fawcett reportedly spoke with a Ukrainian delegation about the potential transfer of MRH-90 Taipan helicopters. He asserts that this request was immediately passed on to the government. This contrasts with the official Canberra statement, which alleged that Ukrainians expressed interest in acquiring the helicopters only on December 17, 2023. Meanwhile, the decision to dispose of the helicopters was made on September 28, 2023, according to the publication.

Contrary to what Asia Pacific Defense Reporter asserts, all the withdrawn MRH-90 Taipan helicopters (45 units) are not rendered completely useless by the Australian army. Some of them have yet to be disposed of and could potentially be sent to Ukraine after assessment and necessary repairs.

"Some of the MRH-90 Taipans are almost entirely disassembled, but many others are in better condition. It's estimated that without major difficulties, 12 to 20 of these helicopters could be restored," writes the Australian newspaper.

Issues with the Australian MRH-90 Taipan

The Australians have long contended with various problems related to these helicopters. In July 2023, one of them crashed during a drill, leading to the death of four Australian soldiers onboard. This incident not only hastened the planned retiring of these units but also led to the decision to scrap them.

The MRH-90 Taipan is a multi-purpose helicopter equipped with two engines (either Rolls-Royce Turboméca RTM322-01/9 or General Electric T700/T6E1) with a total output of over 4,000 horsepower. It weighs 14,109 lbs and can carry up to 20 passengers, in addition to the crew.

This helicopter can achieve speeds of up to 186 mph and operate at altitudes of up to 19,685 feet. In combat configuration, it can be armed with a 7.62 or .50 caliber machine gun, and also with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.

The European counterpart of the MRH-90 Taipan is the NH90 helicopter. While Sweden and Norway have phased them out, these helicopters remain in active service in several NATO countries, such as Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

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