Italian helicopter manufacturer Leonardo has selected Fisherman’s Bend in inner Melbourne as the site for a helicopter repair and overhaul facility.
Minister for Defence, Christopher Pyne said the facility will be capable of servicing Australia’s Multi-Role Helicopter, Taipan, as well as foreign military and certain civil helicopter main gear boxes.
“The facility will commence operation in mid-2020 and employ at least 15 technical staff for 30 years or more, with 25 or so staff employed indirectly,” Minister Pyne said.
Minister Pyne congratulated Leonardo and their local subsidiary, Leonardo Australia, for “committing to establish this strategically important regional centre of excellence.”
“Previously we had to send the gear boxes back to Italy for maintenance – now we’ll be able to do that work here, faster and cheaper, while transferring skills and know-how to Australian industry,” Minister Pyne said.
The Federal Government is investing around $16 million in the facility, with a similar amount being committed by Leonardo.
This facility will be the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere, and will generate new opportunities for local defence industry in the regional aerospace market.
This project is expected to create more defence industry jobs in Victoria and leading to greater helicopter availability for operations.
The MRH90 is one of the most advanced tactical troop transport helicopters of the 21st century. The Commonwealth of Australia ordered 46 MRH90s from Australian Aerospace under AIR 9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6 in a bid to rationalise the Defence Force’s helicopter platforms.
When completed, the MRH-90 will be available for two airmobile squadrons, one special operations support squadron, and one maritime support helicopter squadron, able to provide airmobile and maritime support capability to the ADF from land bases as well as the Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ships.