Defence pulls chopper training out of Oakey

THE Federal Government has announced that some helicopter training will be pulled from the Oakey Army Aviation Centre and relocated to Nowra.

The helicopter aviation training system will be based out of HMAS Albatross in Nowra by 2018.

The move is to allow pilots to be trained to land on a ship at sea.

Member for Groom Ian Macfarlane said is was "simply a result of necessity".

"The introduction of Australia's Landing Helicopter Dock ships into our fleet means that all defence helicopter pilots will need to be trained to land on a ship at sea," he said.

"Access to the existing Navy facilities and training areas at Nowra will best prepare our future aviators for the challenges of flying both over land but also at sea - obviously that's an aspect impossible to achieve at Oakey.

Mr Macfarlane admitted there would be a short term loss of numbers at Oakey.

However, he said the Federal Government would still invest $420m directly and indirectly into defence in Groom.

"With planned upgrades and expansion of the Oakey facility numbers will increase in time and in fact exceed the current number of personnel based at Oakey," Mr Macfarlane said.

The Oakey Army Aviation Training Centre will continue to deliver operational conversion onto multi-role helicopter and armed reconnaissance helicopter for aircrew, maintenance training and aviation support training.

"Graduates of the HATS training program will continue to cycle through Oakey as they transition to their operational types," Mr Macfarlane said.

"The Republic of Singapore Airforce is also expanding flying operations to include CH47 training over the next three years.  

"Oakey will still be just as important to the Australian Defence Force, and will play just as big a role as Nowra. "

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