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JCPAA CONFIRMS GOVERNMENT AND DEFENCE MISMANAGEMENT OF HELICOPTER ACQUISITIONS

December 07, 2020

A unanimous recommendation from the Government-dominated Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) highlights the Government’s continuing mismanagement of helicopter acquisition projects which have been plagued by capability shortfalls, delays, and budget overruns.
 
The JCPAA has advised “that Defence commission a performance review or independent audit of the entire helicopter acquisition program in advance of upcoming helicopter acquisitions by Navy and Army” in its report on Defence Major Projects and Future Submarine Project tabled today.
 
This is a result of years of mismanagement of critical Defence projects under Coalition Governments.
 
The Government’s acquisition of 46 MRH-90 helicopters is a perfect example of why the JCPAA has made this recommendation.
 
This $3.7 billion project is running seven years late and their guns cannot be fired when soldiers are roping in and out of the aircraft because the doors are too narrow.
 
There have also been problems with the helicopters’ cargo hooks, electronic self-protection systems and the cabin floor.
 
The 2018-19 Defence Major Projects Report lists several “major risks and issues” affecting these helicopters including “aircraft system immaturity impacting the delivery schedule” and “technical and design issues”.
 
The ADF is so concerned that the Army is replacing the MRH-90 helicopters for critical Special Forces roles with a new helicopter acquisition even before the MRH-90 has achieved Final Operational Capability.
 
Similarly, the Navy will begin replacing its MRH-90s only three years after they are forecast to achieve full service.
 
The parliamentary hearings around this report also revealed that:

  • The $16.5 billion Joint Strike Fighters will be delivered without $1.5 billion worth of contracted capabilities - effectively a cost blowout;
  • The $1.5 billion battlefield airlifters are not fit to fly into battlefields; and
  • There is a 10-year delay and $39.7 billion budget blowout in the Future Submarines Project.

Australian Defence Force personnel continue to be let down by the revolving door of Defence Ministers and a Government that is incapable of managing Defence projects.

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