Defence has a sorry history of inappropriate aircraft purchases.

Image. Ozatwar Peter Dunn

MILITARY aviation technology has improved exponentially since Australian Flying Corps Lieutenant Eric Harrison first flew a British Bristol Box Kite on March 1, 1914 at Point Cook, Victoria, 13 years to the day after the army was formed. Later that day, Lieutenant Henry Petre, flying a French Deperdussin, registered Australia’s first military aviation accident when he crashed after snaring his tailplane in telephone wires.

Petre served in Mesopotamia and Harrison in New Guinea, both men surviving their service, dying in relatively old pilot age in their beds.

There is no such thing as a flying accident, rather a combination of unsafe conditions and unsafe acts.


Long history of poor defence equipment purchases | Australian Defence History, Policy and Veterans Issues (

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One comment

  • Peter Rogers December 19, 2021  

    This is superficial and sloppy journalism at its worst. There is no analysis or background to the decisions made – and why – as to which aircraft were purchased. The overriding principle here has been the benefits to Australia – manufacturing and employment opportunities, rather than the best military option. In the case of European helicopters, the military was stuck with the performance and suitability promised by the manufacturer – which hasn’t always been achieved, especially with the modifications required to make them compatible with our main ally the USA. Also, the requirement to be used as assistance to the nation in times of catastrophe – bushfires, floods etc – which amazingly and stupidly has been forced on the military as a peacetime role by the powers-that-be. Our military has to be able to fight. Everything else comes a very bad second.

    Now, the world strategic situation has caused a major panic throughout the government and military, and we have started buying equipment that works the way it should.

    And Ross, it is oh so easy to rubbish the Nomad, as most have. Did you know that CAC designed the Nomad wholly around the Pratt and Whitney PT6-A engine that Army already had for its Porter fixed wing? Then the beancounters demanded that it use the Allison C-20 which Army also had for its helicopters. The Nomad thus had 200 horsepower less each side: 400 as opposed to 600. Its resultant handling and performance were atrocious compared to what it could have been.

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