The Royal Australian Navy will lease three Bell 429 helicopters from Raytheon Australia to train its air crews.

The navy will receive the new aircraft in 2012, which will be used for four years, said Australian minister of defence materiel, Jason Clare. The contract is worth $26 million and includes support and maintenance.

Clare said the Bell 429s will likely fly around 1,500h per year.

"This is one way the navy is making sure that pilots and aircrew are ready for the new [Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky] MH-60R helicopters that will start arriving in 2014," Clare said.

The 429s will also be used to prepare crews for the navy's new NH Industries MRH90s.

In June, Australia announced it will acquire 24 MH-60Rs in a deal worth over A$3 billion ($3.1 billion).

Australia is obtaining 46 MRH90s to replace its army's Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and the navy's Westland Sea Kings.

Source: Flight International