The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner today announced that the Defence Materiel Organisation has released project solicitation documents to the United States Navy and Australian Aerospace for the supply of a new naval combat helicopter under Defence Capability Plan project AIR 9000 Phase 8.
Under this project, the Government will acquire sufficient helicopters to provide at least eight helicopters concurrently embarked on ships at sea, which under the White Paper requires a fleet of 24 helicopters.
Senator Faulkner said that „The new naval combat helicopter will enhance the Royal Australian Navy’s ability to conduct a range of maritime combat and other operations, including anti-submarine and surface warfare.“
As announced by the Government in February 2010, the new helicopter will be either the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin built MH-60R sourced through the United States Navy, or the NATO Helicopter Industries NH90 NFH sourced through Australian Aerospace.
„The competition to select a new helicopter has commenced on schedule ahead of a final decision about the new helicopter in 2011“ Senator Faulkner said. „The release of tender documents now is in line with the schedule determined by the Government when it considered the project for First Pass Approval in February of this year.“
The Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, Greg Combet, said „This marks the transition of Project AIR 9000 Phase 8 to a formal competitive solicitation phase.“
„A competitive process is consistent with the Kinnaird and Mortimer procurement reforms,“ Mr Combet said. „It will allow the companies to offer innovative solutions that satisfy the capability, cost and schedule requirements and detail what opportunities they will offer local industry.“
Senator Faulkner said that any decision Government makes in 2011 will take into account all relevant considerations including capability, cost, interoperability with other ADF capabilities, Australian industry opportunities, risk and value for money.
Australian Ministry of Defence
Colin Campbell (John Faulkner): 02 6277 7800 or 0407 787 181
Rod Hilton (Greg Combet) 02 6277 4771 or 0458 276 619
Defence Media Liaison: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664