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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Australia Scraps Super Seasprite Program

Australia has scrapped its troubled and long-delayed SH-2G Super Seasprite project. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said today that the Australian $1-billion-plus program to acquire 11 maritime strike and surveillance helicopters from Kaman Aerospace "had to be cancelled on safety grounds alone," arguing that the "airworthiness and crashworthiness of the aircraft was not up to 21st century standards." He added "it was pretty clear the capability was not likely to be delivered in full." Fitzgibbon serves under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose new government came to power last November. The Super Seasprite contract was to be completed by 2002 but has been plagued by technical problems. Nine helicopters have been delivered. Fitzgibbon said Australia will consider upgrading existing Sikorsky Aircraftt Seahawks before deciding to buy newer MH-60 Seahawks or European-built NH-90s. Kaman CEO Neal Keating said the company would try to negotiate a mutually agreeable conclusion to the contract. "Although we have created a highly capable aircraft for the Royal Australian Navy and continue to fulfill our obligations to the Commonwealth under our contract, we appreciate the thoughtful approach and time invested by the current government in addressing our program and we will work with them toward arriving at a satisfactory arrangement.” For related news

 


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