Australia gives up French Taipan helicopters in favor of American Black Hawks


Australia announced today (Wednesday) that it will abandon its fleet of French-made Taipan military helicopters, despite Paris' last-minute efforts to save the contract.

Trust between the two countries plummeted in 2021 when the former conservative Australian government abruptly canceled a $90 billion ($62 billion) deal with France to buy submarines.

At the height of the row, French President Emmanuel Macron accused then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying about the deal, and Paris recalled its ambassador to Canberra.

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marless, who is part of a centre-left government elected last year, said the French Taipan helicopters would be replaced by US-made Black Hawks. He added that he was confident that this decision would not harm Australia's repaired relationship with France, expressing confidence that there would be no disturbance in relations between the two countries.

The French government owns a large stake in Airbus, which manufactures the Taipan, and has urged Australia to keep its fleet of 40 planes.

But Marless noted that the maintenance of French helicopters was costly. He said, "We have been struggling with (Taipan) helicopters for many years regarding maintenance and obtaining spare parts." "We didn't get the flight hours we needed from Taipan," he added. We are confident that this will be within our reach with the (Black Hawk) aircraft.”

Former Prime Minister Morrison backed out of the submarine deal with the French Naval Group in September 2021, opting instead to buy nuclear submarines from Britain or the United States.

Relations between the two countries remained tense until May last year, when Australia elected Anthony Albanese as a new prime minister, as he rushed to restore relations with Paris.



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