Australian military switches from European helicopters to American helicopters

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – The Australian military announced on Friday that it plans to abandon its fleet of European-designed Taipan helicopters and instead purchase American Black Hawks and Seahawks, as the American machines are more reliable.

The move comes less than three months after Australia rolled back a deal to buy French submarines in favor of building nuclear-powered submarines that use American and British technology in a change that has deeply angered the France.

Australia has 47 Taipan helicopters which were designed by Airbus and were expected to last until 2037, but have been stranded. Australia will stop using them and buy 40 helicopters designed by Lockheed Martin in a change that will cost A $ 7 billion ($ 4.8 billion).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia is improving its defense capabilities and has forged good partnerships, especially with the United States.

“The Taipans weren’t achieving their goals. It’s that easy, ”Morrison said. “And we want to make sure our defense forces have the best possible equipment to defend this country, and the Black Hawks will provide that.” “

Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Black Hawks are much cheaper to fly and officials have had concerns about the Taipan program for the past decade.

“There were nine instances where it wasn’t suitable for flying, and I’m just not going to put our people in that position,” Dutton said.

He said the new helicopters would bring Australia’s fleet closer to that of the United States, an important consideration given the instability in the region.

China has previously expressed anger at Australia’s change of submarine and said it was irresponsible of the United States and Britain to export their nuclear technology.

Opposition politicians have said the Australian government has wasted billions of dollars on bad decisions on many of its defense contracts.

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