A bird within a bird

Published on FLTLT Eamon Hamilton (author), CPL Matthew Persic (photographer)

Location(s): Townsville, Queensland

An Australian Army MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter from 5th Aviation Regiment loaded inside the cargo bay of a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft at RAAF Base Townsville as part of the load trials. (photo: CPL Matthew Persic)
An Australian Army MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter from 5th Aviation Regiment loaded inside the cargo bay of a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft at RAAF Base Townsville as part of the load trials.

Rapid global reach has come to Defence’s fleet of MRH-90 helicopters following a recent trial at RAAF Base Townsville.

Loading trials were carried out between a C-17A Globemaster and an Army MRH-90 from 10-11 May.

Chief Petty Officer Richard Booth, of Headquarters Forces Command, said the procedures would apply to both Army and Navy Taipans.

“We now have the ability to transport an MRH-90 and its support equipment if required to almost any theatre in the world,” Chief Petty Officer Booth said.

“This capability will allow the Navy to support short-notice deployments for several scenarios as and when they occur.”

Australian Army soldiers guide an MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter from 5th Aviation Regiment onto the ramp of a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft at RAAF Base Townsville as part of the load trials.

Australian Army soldiers guide an MRH90 Taipan multi-role helicopter from 5th Aviation Regiment onto the ramp of a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft at RAAF Base Townsville as part of the load trials.

He said the trial was conducted slowly to start with, then more quickly as issues were resolved.

The design work for operationally loading two MRH-90s into a C-17A is yet to begin.

When cleared, the ability to load two in each C-17A will provide a rapid deployment capability to the Australian Defence Force.

The trial was led by Major Josh Eades. Preparation included removing the helicopter’s rotor blades, horizontal stabiliser and external lights and antennas.

The MRH-90 tail can also be ‘folded’, a feature to assist crews when operating from a ship.

“We discovered the tail needs to be folded and unfolded twice during the process of loading and lashing the aircraft into the C-17,” Captain Jeremy Mellor, of the Reconnaissance and Air Mobility Systems Program Office, said.

“This is to ensure sufficient clearance between the helicopter and the ground and the C-17A’s upper ramp.”

Navy's MRH-90 helicopters are bases at 808 Squadron at HMAS Albatross  in Nowra New South Wales.