Australia — More Vietnam War helicopters to be preserved

Min­is­ter for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that six addi­tion­al Iro­quois heli­copters will be reserved for sale to his­tor­i­cal organ­i­sa­tions.

The heli­copters will be avail­able to organ­i­sa­tions in Aus­tralia that have strong his­toric con­nec­tions with the air­craft and can main­tain the air­craft as sta­t­ic dis­plays,” Mr Clare said.

The Iro­quois heli­copters have served in the Aus­tralian Defence Force for near­ly half a cen­tu­ry. It is impor­tant that we pre­serve them to ensure their con­tri­bu­tion to our mil­i­tary her­itage is not forgotten.

They were affec­tion­ate­ly known as Hueys.

Dur­ing the Viet­nam War, the heli­copters pro­vid­ed vital sup­port to troops on the ground. They were used for casu­al­ty evac­u­a­tions, patrols and resupply.”

Mr Clare said the Iro­quois heli­copters fea­tured promi­nent­ly in the bat­tle of Long Tan.

Last year, Flight Lieu­tenant Cliff Dohle was posthu­mous­ly award­ed a Dis­tin­guished Ser­vice Medal for his courage as cap­tain of an Iro­quois dur­ing the bat­tle of Long Tan,” Mr Clare said.

Cliff Dohle showed incred­i­ble brav­ery and skill when he dropped off des­per­ate­ly need­ed ammu­ni­tion to troops under ene­my fire. Not only did he risk being fired upon, he had to nav­i­gate the heli­copter through tor­ren­tial rain.

With­out the sup­ply of ammu­ni­tion, the troops on the ground would have been over­run by the Viet Cong.

Cliff Dohle’s efforts that night saved the lives of Aus­tralian soldiers.” 

Fol­low­ing their ser­vice in Viet­nam, the Iro­quois went on to serve on many peace­keep­ing and human­i­tar­i­an missions. 

The Iro­quois’ final deploy­ment was to Suma­tra in Indone­sia to pro­vide assis­tance fol­low­ing the 2004 Box­ing Day Tsuna­mi,” Mr Clare said. 

The heli­copters flew from dawn to last light every day, deliv­er­ing food, water, med­ical sup­plies and aid work­ers to affect­ed areas.

Air and ground crews worked tire­less­ly in Ban­da Aceh for six weeks. By the time they were with­drawn in late Feb­ru­ary, they had com­plet­ed approx­i­mate­ly 300 mis­sions and deliv­ered 150 tonnes of vital supplies.

The heli­copters evac­u­at­ed close to 500 peo­ple who had lost their homes to the tsunami.”

Iro­quois heli­copters were with­drawn from ser­vice in Decem­ber 2007.

Loca­tions where the heli­copters have pre­vi­ous­ly been based include:

  • RAAF Williamtown, NSW 
  • RAAF Fair­bairn, ACT 
  • HMAS Alba­tross, Nowra, NSW 
  • RAAF Amber­ley, QLD 
  • RAAF Townsville, QLD 
  • 1st Avi­a­tion Reg­i­ment, Oakey, QLD 

As the heli­copters were pro­cured from the Unit­ed States, the sale is con­di­tion­al upon approval from the Unit­ed States Gov­ern­ment. The heli­copters will have to be demil­i­tarised and pre­pared for dis­play. The cost of this work will be the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the recip­i­ents. Costs are esti­mat­ed to be up to $100,000 per aircraft.

Announce­ments regard­ing the ten­der and sale will be made in the com­ing months.

Eleven Iro­quois heli­copters have already been allo­cat­ed to Defence bases around Aus­tralia and the Aus­tralian War Memo­r­i­al in Can­ber­ra for sta­t­ic display. 

Those bases are:

·         RAAF Base Townsville;
·         Point Cook in Vic­to­ria;
·         Dar­win;
·         Holswor­thy;
·         Oakey;
·         Enog­gera; and
·         Bandiana. 

Anoth­er five Iro­quois heli­copters will be kept by the Aus­tralian Defence Force as train­ing aids and anoth­er two have been offered for sale to nation­al returned ser­vice organisations. 

Organ­i­sa­tions wish­ing to receive noti­fi­ca­tion when the ten­der is released can reg­is­ter their inter­est with the Defence Dis­pos­als Agency, by email­ing disposals@defence.gov.au or phone 02 9393 2914. 

Imagery of the Iro­quois heli­copters is avail­able at:
http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=11120107

Media con­tact: Tim Quadrio – 02 6277 7620

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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