Two of the Australian Defence Force’s main helicopters are not performing anywhere near acceptable levels for reasons including “chronic” spare part shortages and reliability issues.
Responses by the Department of Defence to Labor questions lodged during Senate estimates has revealed one of the main reasons the MRH-90 Taipan and ARH Tiger helicopters weren’t available to carry out a large part of their planned missions was “aircraft serviceability and reliability”.
Defence has disclosed that the MRH-90’s performance is being affected by “chronic” shortages of spare parts resulting in a deep maintenance backlog and by the manufacturer taking months to provide engineering advice needed for servicing and repair.
Key capabilities which ADF personnel need to do their jobs are significantly underperforming – this is unacceptable.
It is clear that there are serious issues with the billions of dollars of helicopters acquired by the Coalition Government which are having a significant impact on the aircrafts' availability.
Availability issues with these helicopters and other critical Defence infrastructure has been ongoing since 2016, and these latest figures show this problem is not being resolved.
This demonstrates the need for Defence to commission an independent audit of the entire helicopter acquisition program as recommended by Parliament's Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.
The Morrison Government cannot blame the COVID-19 pandemic for these shortfalls.
What is the Defence Minister doing about these ongoing issues?
Yet again Australian Defence Force personnel are being let down by a Government that is incapable of managing Defence projects.