Statement: Acquisition of UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters


Wednesday 18 January 2023

The Opposition welcomes the acquisition of 40 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Army. This is an important decision which will enhance capability and reliability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

However, the Albanese Government must explain why it has taken more than five months to make this critical decision since the sale was approved by the US Government.

Under the former Coalition government, then Defence Minister Peter Dutton negotiated the decision to acquire Black Hawk helicopters, which was later approved by our US partners in August.

The Coalition takes a bipartisan approach to Defence, supporting the acquisition of the right capability in the strategic circumstances. But it is not good enough that it has taken the Minister 145 days to make this important announcement.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has unnecessarily delayed making a decision, claiming the acquisition was subject to review.

If the UH-60 helicopters were subject to the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), then the Albanese Government must explain why they have pre-empted the final DSR and made this decision now?

If this important capability was excluded from the scope of the DSR then why did Minister Penny Wong mislead estimates in November 2022, when she stated, “all capabilities are being considered in the context of the DSR.”

Clearly this is not the case.

When it comes to delivering much needed capability to our personnel, time is of the essence.

This acquisition decision was handed to the Deputy Prime Minister on a silver platter by the Coalition government and should have been made much earlier.  It will ensure the ADF has a safe, reliable, and capable utility helicopter available into the future.