**Check against delivery**
- Kim Gillis, VP and Manager Director, Boeing Defence Australia
- Ewen Jones MP, Member for Herbert
- Councillor Jenny Hill, Mayor of Townsville
- Major General Gus McLachlan, Army Headquarters
- Brigadier Andrew Mathewson, Defence Materiel Organisation
- Brigadier Greg Lawler, Army Forces Command
- Brigadier Mick Prictor, Commander 16, Aviation Brigade
- Lieutenant Colonel Tony Dennis, Commanding Officer, Aviation Regiment
Ladies and gentlemen, It is good to be here in Townsville – my first official visit as Defence Minister.
It’s a real honour to commission into service the first two CH-47F Chinook ‘Foxtrot’ helicopters today.
The arrival of the new Chinook Foxtrots marks a significant step forward in Army’s ability to support operations in the field.
This Project, which represents an investment of $631 million in Australia’s safety and security, will deliver seven Chinook Foxtrots and two flight simulators, with all major equipment deliveries scheduled for completion by August 2015.
The first two new Chinooks were delivered on schedule to the Aviation Regiment here at Townsville at the beginning of last month.
The final aircraft will be delivered by the end of July this year.
The two new simulators that are also part of this project were delivered in April 2014 and February 2015, allowing Army’s Chinook crews to safely train for a wide range of operational and mission-related scenarios.
The 5th Aviation Regiment will achieve an initial operational capability with these new aircraft by December 2015 and a fully mature, operational capability by January 2017.
Pleasingly, the project remains on schedule and under budget.
I am also pleased to note that support for the new Chinook Foxtrots here in Townsville will be provided through partnerships with Boeing Defence Australia and BAE Systems.
Before I conclude, I’m conscious of the significant role ADF personnel from Townville played recently in Vanuatu.
More than 500 soldiers, sailors, aircrew deployed during Operation Pacific Assist 2015, providing help across the archipelago and significantly assisting the recovery process in the wake of category five Tropical Cyclone Pam.
The ADF’s tireless work ethic and commitment to help those in need has been invaluable in assisting the people of Vanuatu – and in more recent time in Nepal – get their lives back on track.