Embarrassing! Australian Defence Department spent $3.8 billion on helicopters with hatches too narrow for gunfire

The Australian Defence Department admitted that the MRH-90 “Taipan” multi-role helicopter, ordered at a cost of 3.8 billion Australian dollars, had a hatch that was too narrow to allow gunfire while soldiers rappelled down from the aircraft, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on 27 October.

According to reports, at an Australian Senate assessment hearing, the head of helicopter defense and maintenance capabilities Sean Falwiese confirmed that the MRH-90 “Taipan” helicopters ordered from Airbus cost $3.8 billion, but one problem is that the width of the hatch is too narrow to allow soldiers to get in and out of the helicopter while it is firing.

Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Rick Burr admitted that technical and safety issues prevented the aircraft from operating efficiently and that only a few tactical workarounds could solve the problem. The inability to fire while soldiers were sliding down the rope meant the Australian military was forced to fly helicopters in pairs for certain missions.

Australian Defence Minister Angus? Campbell argued that this required a careful study of the aircraft’s use and stressed that the Australian military never sends the aircraft on separate missions. Australia has reportedly been procuring the MRH-90 for the Army and Navy since 2004, and the aircraft remains on the Department of Defence’s order list.