Italian helicopter manufacturer Leonardo has selected Fisherman’s Bend in inner Melbourne as the site to construct the country’s new helicopter repair facility.

The facility will be built to support maintenance work and servicing for the Royal Australian Navy’s multi-role helicopter Taipan, in addition to maintaining the main gearboxes for some foreign military and civil helicopters.

Australian Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The facility will commence operation in mid-2020 and employ at least 15 technical staff for 30 years or more, with 25 or so staff employed indirectly.

“The new Leonardo repair and overhaul facility is being built using an investment of approximately $16m provided by the Australian government and a similar amount from Leonardo.”

“I would like to congratulate Leonardo and their local subsidiary, Leonardo Australia, for committing to establish this strategically important regional centre of excellence.”

“Previously we had to send the gearboxes back to Italy for maintenance. Now we’ll be able to do that work here, faster and cheaper, while transferring skills and know-how to Australian industry.”

The new Leonardo repair facility is being built using an investment of approximately $16m provided by the Australian government and a similar amount from Leonardo. It is claimed to be only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

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In addition, the helicopter repair and upgrade plant will help create new opportunities for the local defence industry in the regional aerospace market, as well as generate additional jobs in Victoria, Australia, providing increased helicopter availability to carry out a wide range of operations.

Equipped with improved capability and capacity to meet future requirements, the multi-role helicopter has been designed to replace the Australian Defence Force’s existing fleets of Black Hawk and Sea King aircraft.