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Australia to Upgrade Chinook Helicopters (Nov 30)

Australia's Chinook helicopters are about to undergo a $25 million upgrade to fit them with electronic warfare and ballistic protection and advanced communications to ensure they are combat ready for future operations.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said the Government has agreed to the upgrade as part of a rapid acquisition project to provide the Australian Defence Force with the flexibility to be able to deploy the aircraft to cover a wide range of contingencies.

Senator Hill said the upgrades will provide the aircraft with enhanced Electronic Warfare Self Protection equipment, additional crew and passenger protection and advanced communications.

"This equipment will improve the safety and survivability of the aircraft, as well as its ability to work closely with Coalition forces if needed," Senator Hill said.

The Chinooks are the largest and most versatile helicopters in Australia and are a critical asset for the Army. Six Chinooks are currently based in Townsville, Queensland, and are used for transporting troops, heavy lift of equipment and supplies and medical evacuation.

"This upgrade will ensure they are equipped with the necessary protection and latest technology to be safely deployed in any future high threat security environment," Senator Hill said. "They will be equipped with an enhanced level of ballistic protection against direct fire weapons, such as small arms fire, as well as with Electronic Warfare Self Protection equipment.

"The upgrade will ensure the Chinooks have advanced communications equipment to operate with Coalition partners and increased situational awareness to operate in demanding flying environments. They will also be fitted out for aero-medical evacuation and have improved gun mounts."

The new equipment to be installed on the Chinooks will soon be acquired by Defence through a rapid acquisition tender process with Australian industry and foreign equipment suppliers.

The Chinook acquisition program will continue to examine technology upgrades to ensure the best possible capabilities and protection are provided to our troops who are deployed on operations.

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Major Upgrade for Chinook Helicopters