US approves sale of 40 UH-60Ms to Australia

US State Department approval has been granted for the possible $1.95bn Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters.

An announcement by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on August 25 confirmed the approval and said that US Congress had been notified the same day. The DSCA stated that the potential deal will also include 88 T700-GE 701D engines (80 installed, eight spares); 44 AN/AAR-57 Counter Missile Warning Systems (CMWS) (40 installed, four spares); and 96 H-764U Embedded Global Position Systems with Inertial Navigation (EGI) and Country Unique SAASM (or future replacement) (80 installed, 16 spares).

US Army UH-60M
A UH-60M Black Hawk performs test and evaluation of the type’s dynamic hoist operation. The US State Department has approved the possible sale of 40 UH-60Ms to the Australian Army. US Army/Scott C Childress

Also included are AN/ARC-231 RT-1808A (or future replacement) VHF/UHF/LOS SATCOM radios; APR-39C(V)1/4 Radar Warning Receivers; AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets; APX-123A Identification Friend or Foe Transponder; ARC-220 High Frequency (HF) radio with KY-100M; VRC-100 Ground Stations; AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loader (SKL); KIV-77 Common Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Applique Crypto Computers; KY-100M COMSEC Encryption devices; AN/ARN-147(V) Very High Frequency Omni-Directional Range(VOR)/Instrument Landing System (ILS) receiver radio; AN/ARN-149(V) Low Frequency (LF)/Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) radio receiver; AN/ARN-153 Tactical Air Navigation System (TACAN) receiver transmitter; AN/APN-209 radar altimeter; AN/ARC-210 radios; EBC-406HM Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT); Encrypted Aircraft Wireless Intercommunications Systems (EAWIS); Improved Heads Up Display (IHUD); Signal Data Converters for IHUD; Blue Force Trackers (BFT-2); Improved Data Modems (IDM);

Also included are Colour Weather Radars; MX-10D EO/IR with Laser Designator; EO/IR Cabin Monitoring Systems; EO/IR Digital Video Recorder; AN/ARC-201D RT-1478D; Engine Inlet Barrier Filters (EIBF); Ballistic Armor Protection Systems (BAPS); Internal Auxiliary Fuel Tank Systems (IAFTS); Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES); External Rescue Hoist (ERH); Rescue Hoist Equipment Sets; Dual Patient Litter System (DPLS) Sets; Martin Baker Palletized Crew Chief/Gunner Seats with crashworthy floor structural modifications; External Stores Support System (ESSS); Integrated Tow Plates Production Assets; Universal Software Loading Kits; 60kVA Generator Kits; Instrument Panel sets; External Gun Mount Systems; Black Hawk Aircrew Trainer (BAT); Black Hawk Maintenance Trainer (BHMT-M); Black Hawk Avionics Trainer; Maintenance Blended Reconfigurable Avionics Trainer (MBRAT); training devices; helmets; transportation; organizational equipment; spare and repair parts; support equipment; tools and test equipment; technical data and publications; personnel training and training equipment; US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support.

The proposed sale will replace Australia’s current MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter fleet with “a more reliable and proven system that will allow Australia to maintain the appropriate level of readiness to conduct combined operations” says the DSCA. Australia had been dissatisfied with the performance of the MRH90 and Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced on December 10 last year that it was looking at purchasing the UH-60M to replace the 47 MRH90s in Australian Army service.

A press release from Dutton at that time said that the MRH90 helicopter fleet has not met contracted availability requirements nor the expected cost of ownership ahead of its planned withdrawal from service in 2037. He stated that: “The performance of the MRH90 Taipan has been an ongoing and well-documented concern for Defence and there has been a significant effort at great expense to try to remediate those issues. It is critically important there is a safe, reliable and capable utility helicopter available for our service men and women into the future, with reasonable and predictable operating costs.”