More Vietnam War helicopters to be preserved

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that six additional Iroquois helicopters will be reserved for sale to historical organisations.

“The helicopters will be available to organisations in Australia that have strong historic connections with the aircraft and can maintain the aircraft as static displays,” Mr Clare said.

“The Iroquois helicopters have served in the Australian Defence Force for nearly half a century. It is important that we preserve them to ensure their contribution to our military heritage is not forgotten.

“They were affectionately known as Hueys.

“During the Vietnam War, the helicopters provided vital support to troops on the ground. They were used for casualty evacuations, patrols and resupply.”

Mr Clare said the Iroquois helicopters featured prominently in the battle of Long Tan.

“Last year, Flight Lieutenant Cliff Dohle was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for his courage as captain of an Iroquois during the battle of Long Tan,” Mr Clare said.

“Cliff Dohle showed incredible bravery and skill when he dropped off desperately needed ammunition to troops under enemy fire. Not only did he risk being fired upon, he had to navigate the helicopter through torrential rain.

“Without the supply of ammunition, the troops on the ground would have been overrun by the Viet Cong.

“Cliff Dohle’s efforts that night saved the lives of Australian soldiers.”

Following their service in Vietnam, the Iroquois went on to serve on many peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

“The Iroquois’ final deployment was to Sumatra in Indonesia to provide assistance following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami,” Mr Clare said.

“The helicopters flew from dawn to last light every day, delivering food, water, medical supplies and aid workers to affected areas.

“Air and ground crews worked tirelessly in Banda Aceh for six weeks. By the time they were withdrawn in late February, they had completed approximately 300 missions and delivered 150 tonnes of vital supplies.

“The helicopters evacuated close to 500 people who had lost their homes to the tsunami.”

Iroquois helicopters were withdrawn from service in December 2007.

Locations where the helicopters have previously been based include:

  • RAAF Williamtown, NSW
  • RAAF Fairbairn, ACT
  • HMAS Albatross, Nowra, NSW
  • RAAF Amberley, QLD
  • RAAF Townsville, QLD
  • 1st Aviation Regiment, Oakey, QLD

As the helicopters were procured from the United States, the sale is conditional upon approval from the United States Government. The helicopters will have to be demilitarised and prepared for display. The cost of this work will be the responsibility of the recipients. Costs are estimated to be up to $100,000 per aircraft.

Announcements regarding the tender and sale will be made in the coming months.

Eleven Iroquois helicopters have already been allocated to Defence bases around Australia and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for static display.

Those bases are:

  • RAAF Base Townsville;
  • Point Cook in Victoria;
  • Darwin;
  • Holsworthy;
  • Oakey;
  • Enoggera; and
  • Bandiana.

Another five Iroquois helicopters will be kept by the Australian Defence Force as training aids and another two have been offered for sale to national returned service organisations.

Organisations wishing to receive notification when the tender is released can register their interest with the Defence Disposals Agency, by emailing disposals@defence.gov.au or phone 02 9393 2914. 

Imagery of the Iroquois helicopters is available at:

http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=11120107

Media contact: Tim Quadrio – 02 6277 7620

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