Australia will receive an additional MRH90 helicopter from Eurocopter, a subsidiary of European Aeronautic, Defense & Space (EADS), as compensation for delays in delivery of the helicopters.
The MRH90 or NH90 Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH) is a medium-sized, twin-engined, transport helicopter that is piloted by a crew of 2. It has a maximum payload of up to 4000 kg, including room for up to 20 soldiers.
The MRH90 is a variant of the NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) for Australia. The extra helicopter from Eurocopter brings the total number of MRH90 to be acquired by Australia to 47.
Australia ordered 12 MRH90 in 2005 and an additional 34 in 2006 to replace existing Westland Sea King, Bell UH-1 Iroquois and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in the Australian Army and Navy.
Four were to be delivered from Europe and the remaining manufactured locally under license. Australia currently has 19 MRH90 and will receive 6 to 7 more every year until 2017.
However, the original program schedule has been delayed by 3 years due to problems, including those associated with the RTM322 engine in the MRH90, that appeared in Australia.
Australian Aerospace, a subsidiary of Eurocopter that manufactures the MRH90, hopes to make up for these delays by providing the 47th MRH90 free of charge to Australia.
The problems with the MRH90 helped lead Australia to choose the Sikorsky MH-60R Sea Hawk over the NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH), a variant of the NH90 for naval use, including Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).
Australia awarded a $3.15 billion contract for 24 MH-60R in 2011 to replace older S-70B Sea Hawk helicopters in service. All are to be delivered between 2014 and 2020.