Australia on 18 December formally accepted into service its first two of 46 NH Industries MRH90 multirole helicopters, being acquired to replace its navy Westland Sea King shipborne and army Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk utility helicopters.

The aircraft - one from each service - will be used to support an extensive test, evaluation, training and development phase, before achieving initial operational capability in 2010 with the navy and 2011 with the army.

 MRH90 pair
© Australian Department of Defence

Australia's first two MRH90s arrived in the country during November, and are among an initial four to be delivered from Eurocopter in France by mid-2008. The programme's remaining 42 aircraft will be built at Australian Aerospace in Brisbane, Queensland by 2014.

 MRH90 side
© Australian Department of Defence

Canberra has meanwhile awarded prime contractor CAE and its partner Thales a A$180 million ($158 million) contract to deliver two flight simulators for the MRH90 to the Army Aviation Training Centre at Oakey, Queensland, and the aviation regiment in Townsville during 2012.