Leonardo and the Australian MoD sign agreement to establish helicopter facility

Leonardo and the Australian Ministry of Defence have agreed to establish a helicopter transmission repair and overhaul facility in Melbourne capable of servicing MRH Taipan, foreign NH90 and certain civil helicopter main gear boxes. Planned to be set up into an existing facility of Leonardo and to commence operation in mid-2020, the centre will employ at least 12 technical staff for 30 years or more.

Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP today congratulated Leonardo and their local subsidiary, Leonardo Australia, for committing to the establishment of this strategically important regional centre of excellence.

“Establishing this repair and overhaul facility locally means less reliance on foreign support for our MRH Taipan helicopters, and the same for certain local civil helicopter operators,” Minister Pyne said.

“The Turnbull government is investing, along with Leonardo, in a Defence capability enhancing facility whilst also creating new high skills employment opportunities.

The Federal Government is investing around $16m in the facility. The investment will be repaid through reduced MRH Taipan sustainment costs over the remaining life of the helicopter fleet. A similar amount is also being provided by Leonardo.

“This project is a true win-win situation for both Defence and local Defence Industry. It creates more Defence Industry jobs in Victoria and will lead to greater helicopter availability for operations,” Minister Pyne said.

Acquired in 2006, the fleet of 47 MRH Taipan helicopters, a dedicated variant of the NH90 for the Australian armed forces for both land and maritime operations, will next year commence replacing Black Hawk in the 6th Aviation Regiment in Sydney, where they will gradually take over the role of aviation support to counter terrorism. Establishing a local repair and overhaul facility will contribute to greater helicopter availability for this critical national security mission.

This latest step by Leonardo reflects a strong commitment to positioning the customer at the core of any activity undertaken by the Company, from design to through life cycle support. As the designer and manufacturer of transmission components and main gear boxes for all the NH90 helicopters of any customer worldwide, the opening of a dedicated MRO centre for the Australian fleet is also a strong recognition of Leonardo’s established expertise in support services on core and critical technologies.

Note to editors on Leonardo presence in Australia and recent developments and success

Leonardo has been operating in Australia for more than 50 years supplying a wide range of civil and military solutions including, among others, the C-27J Spartan tactical airlifter for the Royal Australian Air Force and maritime communications systems. Nearly 120 civil, public utility and military helicopters of various models have been sold by the Company in the country to date.

In late 2017 Leonardo opened a new site in Western Australia, through its subsidiary Selex ES Australia Pty Ltd continuing to invest in the country beyond its presence in Melbourne, Victoria and Nowra, New South Wales. The new facility, located in Rockingham, South of Perth will be the regional hub for engineering, integration, installation and through life support. Proximity to the Hendersen shipyards and Garden Island will allow Leonardo to be highly responsive on naval programmes. It will also allow Leonardo to team with Western Australian companies and build up a local workforce with specialist skills particularly in defence electronics that will complement the already strong shipbuilding capabilities in the area. The new site will also play a key role in Leonardo’s delivery as prime system integrator of the SEA1442 phase 4 solution. Under the programme, Leonardo will provide an integrated suite of state-of-the-art communications capabilities for the upgrade and modernisation of Australia’s ANZAC frigates. For future prospects in the naval sector, Leonardo is also looking into the SEA5000 “Future Frigates” requirement.

In March this year, through its German subsidiary Selex ES GmbH, Leonardo was awarded a major contract by the Bureau of Meteorology to deliver state-of-the-art meteorological radars in Australia. The Company sees potential also for unmanned systems in Australia and has more recently presented its AWHERO unmanned rotorcraft air system.