Australian army buys 34 choppers for $1.5 billion

The Australian military will spend 2 billion Australian dollars (US$1.5 billion) to purchase 34 new helicopters to replace its aging fleet, Defense Minister Brendan Nelson said Monday. Nelson said delivery of the Australian-made MRH 90 helicopters would begin in 2007 and continue through 2009. The Australian military's current fleet of Sea King and Black Hawk helicopters will be retired from 2010 and 2015, respectively, Prime Minister John Howard told reporters at a joint press conference in Canberra. "In making this decision the government is providing a common platform in helicopters for both the navy and the army which, will result in very significant efficiencies and savings," Howard said.