Australia has formally requested information from the US Government about acquiring up to 40 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

The helicopter is being considered as an alternative to the Australian Army’s MRH90 Taipan fleet.

Australia Defence Minister Peter Dutton said: “The Australian Government is exercising its right to understand what options are available to provide the necessary capability at a reasonable cost into the future,”

The Australian Army currently uses the MRH90 Taipan as its utility helicopter.

The MRH90 Taipan is also used for special operations and provides maritime support for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Peter Dutton said: “Defence uses its helicopters to support a range of operations.

“This includes humanitarian aid and disaster relief, domestically and in the Indo-Pacific region, and to support our troops in combat operations.”

The decision comes after the MRH90 helicopter fleet failed to meet contracted availability requirements and expected ownership costs.

It is expected to be retired from service in 2037.

In June this year, Australian defence spokesman said that the flying operations of the MRH90 were suspended temporarily.

Dutton added: “The performance of the MRH90 Taipan has been an ongoing and well-documented concern for defence and there has been a significant effort at great expense to try to remediate those issues.

“It is critically important there is a safe, reliable and capable utility helicopter available for our service men and women into the future, with reasonable and predictable operating costs.”

For the past ten years, the UH60M has been used by the US Army and many other countries.