Australian Naval Air Base to Undergo Upgrades for New Helicopter Fleet

Australia’s only naval air base, HMAS Albatross, is set to undergo substantial upgrades in order to accommodate a growing fleet of helicopters. The upgrades include resurfacing tarmacs and landing strips, and will cost more than $120 million.

The main focus of these upgrades is the anticipated delivery of 13 MH-60R Seahawk Romeos, which are set to replace the troubled MH90 Taipan helicopters. The Taipan fleet has been grounded following a fatal training exercise earlier this month, which resulted in the death of four Army servicemen. Investigations into the cause of the incident are still ongoing.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy stated that the acquisition of the Seahawk Romeos is part of a long-term plan to replace the Taipan helicopters. In addition to the Romeos, Black Hawks will also be acquired for the Australian Army.

The upgrades to HMAS Albatross are expected to take approximately 18 months to complete. They will involve improvements to landing strips, tarmacs, apron waves, and stormwater drainage. Once the upgrades are finished, the air base will effectively have a brand-new landing strip and tarmac, ready to accommodate the additional helicopters.

The Seahawk Romeos are considered an essential part of Australia’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities. Minister Conroy explained that they work hand in glove with the acquisition of nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarines. This new capability will give the Royal Australian Navy an advantage it has never had before.

Overall, the upgrades to HMAS Albatross and the acquisition of the Seahawk Romeos are part of Australia’s commitment to strengthen its defense capabilities and deter potential aggressors.

Sources:
– “Upgrades to HMAS Albatross to accommodate growing helicopter fleet” – ABC Illawarra
– Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy