The MRH90 is the Australian version of the NH90 advanced medium-lift, twin-engine, multi-role helicopter anufactured by Australian Aerospace, a unit of Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters). The MRH-90 multi-role helicopter replaced the Australian Defence Force (ADF) existing Black Hawk and Sea King helicopter fleets with increased and improved capability, ability and capacity to meet emerging requirements. The MRH90 Taipan helicopters are set to replace the Australian Navy’s Sea King helicopters to perform enhanced maritime support and troop lift operations from land bases and Canberra Class amphibious assault ships.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) ordered a total of 47 MRH90s and the first 46 helicopters are scheduled to achieve final operational capability by April 2019. The Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH) programme was designed with a plan to rationalise the number of helicopter types in Australian Defence Force (ADF) service. Originally 46 aircraft had been contracted under projects AIR 9000 Phase 2, 4, and 6. Phase 2 (12 helicopters) was the acquisition of troop-lift aircraft for the Australian Army; Phase 4 (28 helicopters) was to replace the Army’s Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk helicopters; and Phase 6 (6 helicopters) was to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN’s) Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters.
The MRH-90 Taipan helicopter features all-composite construction and incorporates crash-worthy capabilities based on MIL-STD-1290A. It is capable of conducting missions under difficult weather conditions. It incorporates a large and spacious cabin at the centre fuselage, facilitating 20 troop seats or up to 12 stretchers. The crash-worthy seats accommodate a pilot, a co-pilot, two loadmasters and 18 combat troops. A sliding door is fitted on both sides of the cabin and a ramp is placed at the rear. The structure offers protection up to a speed of 10m/s when landing gear is extended and up to 7m/s with retracted landing gear. The helicopter is 16.13m long and 5.23m high and has an empty weight of 6,400kg and a maximum take-off weight of 10,600kg.
The MRH-90 Taipan helicopter is powered by two Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 turbo-shaft engines, which generate an output power of 1,662kW each. The helicopter can fly at a maximum speed of 300km/h and has a range of 800km. It can operate at a service ceiling of 20,000ft and can climb at a rate of 8m per second. The helicopter has a four-bladed main rotor and a high positioned tail rotor coupled with the main transmission for anti-torque function. The tricycle type retractable landing gear features two single-tire main units to retract into the centre fuselage as well as a twin-wheel nose unit to pull back into the forward fuselage.