Media Releases


May 27, 2021

In response to Questions on Notice from Labor, the Morrison Government has admitted it is spending $37 million on two civilian helicopters due to ongoing problems with its $3.7 billion MRH-90 helicopter fleet.
Defence has been forced to lease these civilian helicopters because of the poor performance of the MRH-90s as a direct result of the Morrison Government’s appalling mismanagement of multi-billion dollar Defence capability projects.
The latest $37 million hit to taxpayers comes on top of tens of millions of dollars already spent attempting to fix a long list of capability failures with the MRH-90s.
This project is running seven years behind schedule.
Over the past five years, the MRH-90s have flown nearly 30 per cent fewer hours than originally planned and they have been plagued with issues, including:

  • Their guns cannot be fired while soldiers are roping in and out of the helicopter because the doors are too narrow;
  • Last year, 27 of the fleet of 47 helicopters could not be flown because they did not have enough sliding rails for the helicopter doors;
  • Chronic shortages of parts resulting in a significant maintenance backlog;
  • Problems with the tail rotor blades, cabin sliding door rails, cargo hooks, electronic self-protection systems, and the cabin floor; and
  • Repeated grounding of the MRH-90s while safety risks for ADF personnel are addressed.

Defence has also confirmed in response to Labor’s questions that a fault identified in one of the helicopters could have had ‘catastrophic consequences’ if it wasn’t fixed.
Based on current estimates, the Government will have spent over $11 billion maintaining these helicopters by the time the fleet is retired in 2037.
This entire project has been a disaster from day dot.
It has been poorly managed by the revolving door of six Liberal Defence Ministers over the last eight years.
As always, the taxpayer is footing the bill for these mistakes, and Australian Defence Force personnel are continually being let down by a Government which is not delivering the equipment our troops need to do their jobs.