Australia cancels deal for military helicopters, sparks major row with France

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Australia cancels deal for military helicopters, sparks major row with France

Australia on Wednesday introduced it will scrap its fleet of European-made Taipan military helicopters, regardless of last-ditch lobbying by France to avoid wasting the contract Image Courtesy AFP

Sydney: The relations between Australia and France has hit a brand new low. After the row in 2021 when 2021 when Australia cancelled a deal to purchase French submarines, the nations are actually at loggerheads over military helicopters.

Australia on Wednesday introduced it will scrap its fleet of European-made Taipan military helicopters, regardless of last-ditch lobbying by France to avoid wasting the contract.

Trust between the 2 nations plummeted in 2021 when Australia’s former conservative authorities abruptly tore up a Aus$90 billion settlement (US$62 billion) to bolster the navy with French-built submarines.

At the peak of the spat, French President Emmanuel Macron accused Australia’s then-prime minister Scott Morrison of mendacity in regards to the deal, and Paris recalled its ambassador from Canberra.

Defence Minister Richard Marles, a part of a centre-left authorities elected final yr, mentioned Wednesday the Taipans would get replaced with US-made Black Hawk helicopters.

Marles mentioned he was assured this is able to not injury Australia’s relationship with France, which has been considerably repaired for the reason that submarine row.

“The most important thing here is dealing with the French in an honest way,” he advised nationwide broadcaster ABC.

“We are confident that this won’t interrupt the renewed relationship with France.”

The French authorities has a big stake in Airbus — the European aerospace firm that manufactures the Taipans — and has been urging Australia to maintain its 40-strong fleet.

But Marles mentioned the helicopters had been suffering from expensive repairs.

“We have been struggling with the Taipans for many years, in terms of maintenance issues, getting spare parts,” he mentioned.

“We just haven’t got the flying hours out of the Taipan that we need. We are confident we can get that from the Black Hawks.”

In a press release, Airbus mentioned it “acknowledges” the choice and that Australia remained a key market for the corporate.

“We are committed to building on our significant presence in the country, together with our customers, partners and government stakeholders,” an Airbus spokesman mentioned.

Former prime minister Morrison reneged on a profitable submarine contract with France’s Naval Group in September 2021 — as an alternative selecting to purchase nuclear-powered subs from Britain or the United States.

Relations remained bitter till May final yr, when Australia elected new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese — who has moved to patch issues up with Paris.

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