Italy’s Leonardo concluded an agreement with Australia’s Ministry of Defence to establish a helicopter transmission repair and overhaul facility in Melbourne in late April.
The facility will be capable of servicing the MRH Taipan-variant of the NK-90 helicopter, foreign NH-90 models, and certain civil helicopter main gear boxes, the company said. It is planned to be set up in an existing Leonardo facility and begin operations in mid-2020.
The new facility is set to require 12 technical staff for upwards of 30 years.
“Establishing this repair and overhaul facility locally means less reliance on foreign support for our MRH Taipan helicopters, and the same for certain local civil helicopter operators,” Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne, said in a statement.
As part of the deal, the Australian government will invest about $12 million in the facility, to be repaid through reduced MRH Taipan sustainment costs over the remaining life of the helicopter fleet. Leonardo is providing a similar amount of funding, the company said.
Australia has a fleet of 47 MRH Taipans for land and maritime operations that it acquired n 2006. In 2019 the Taipans are set to replace Black Hawk helicopters in the country’s 6th Aviation Regiment in Sydney and will take over aviation support for counter-terrorism activities.
Leonardo underscored in a statement that “establishing a local repair and overhaul facility will contribute to greater helicopter availability for this critical national security mission.”
NH Industies, the maker of the MRH Taipan, is a joint venture between Airbus, Leonardo, and Fokker.