Engineers who once worked on Australia’s now grounded fleet of Taipan helicopters have volunteered to rebuild the aircraft for use by Ukraine rather than dispose of them by disassembly, according to media reports.
Australia’s taipans have had a troubled history, never meeting defence performance criteria since their acquisition from 2007.
However now they will be replaced by Black Hawke helicopters, the government has begun to dismantle the helicopters – which were not saleable – for spare parts, much to the consternation of the Ukrainian community and supporters.
In September the government announced the retirement of the fleet after one of the MRH-90s crashed off the Queensland coast in July killing four people.
ABC reported that Ukraine had formally approached Australia to acquire some of the airframes, meeting with a ‘not possible’ from the government.
“Disassembly of the MRH-90 fleet is well advanced and no aircraft are in flying condition,” a Defence Department spokesperson told the ABC.
“…Parts, which include a complex range of materials, will be disposed of in an environmentally conscious manner — this process has not yet been finalised,” the spokesperson added.
Now a group of former soldiers and technicians have volunteered to reassemble any aircraft for use in Ukraine.
“Former ADF personnel would love to, most likely enjoy, spending time working on aircraft that would benefit another country against Russia,” said former Australian soldier Chris Moore.
Meanwhile Australian intelligence and defence expert Dr Victor Abramowicz of Charles Darwin University said: “There’s a request there from Kyiv, and now an offer from technicians to do the work for free. This would seem to be a win-win.
“While there might be legal issues involved in terms of if the helicopters have any issues with them (safety, or maintainability), whether Australia might be held liable.
“With that said, considering Ukraine’s difficult situation, I’d think it very unlikely that Kyiv would refuse the helicopters or take Australia to task if there were issues with them.”
Dr Abramowicz said Ukraine needs anything it can get, but most particularly ammunition for its heavy artillery.
“This is something Australia and France are cooperating on.”
Picture: navy.gov.au/MRH-90 multi-role helicopter