Sydney Town Hall – In a rallying cry to support Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion, campaigners are urging Australia to reconsider its decision to decommission 45 Taipan helicopters. The Australian Defence Force had originally planned to replace the aging fleet with U.S.-made Blackhawks.
The call to action comes amid Ukraine’s request to acquire the European-designed Taipan helicopters, which Australian officials had initially dismissed. The aircraft had faced safety concerns, prompting officials to decide on their dismantling and burial at an Australian defense site.
Stefan Romaniw, co-chair of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations, emphasized the critical role air support plays in Ukraine’s war effort, stating, “The way to support Ukraine now would be to give those Taipan helicopters. They need to fight the war in the air. The air is very, very important to Ukraine’s winning of this war. Therefore, the callout is, support Ukraine now, send the Taipan helicopters ASAP [as soon as possible].”
The Australian government, known for its strong support of Ukraine, has promised military assistance “for 2024 and beyond.” Acting Defense Minister Matt Thistlethwaite affirmed Australia’s commitment to backing Ukraine against “illegal and unprovoked aggression and invasion by Russia.” Australia is one of the largest non-NATO contributors to Ukraine’s war effort and has imposed significant sanctions on Russian politicians, military commanders, and businesspeople.
Campaigners are gathering at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday to advocate for a change in the government’s decision regarding the decommissioned helicopters. Meanwhile, the Australian Defence Force plans to introduce U.S.-made Blackhawk helicopters as replacements and incorporate new Apache helicopters into service for the Australian army next year.
As tensions escalate in the region, the fate of the decommissioned Taipan helicopters remains a focal point, with the rally seeking to sway the government to reconsider their disposal in favor of supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression.