France lobbies Australia over helicopters

·2-min read

Any decision to scrap the fleet of Taipan helicopters early would be made in Australia's best interest, Defence Minister Richard Marles says.

Australia is reviewing whether to scrap multi-role helicopters a decade before originally planned.

The French government have a stake in the Taipan's manufacturer Airbus and is lobbying the government not to scrap the program.

Mr Marles says his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu raised the issue with him when they met in September.

"France, in a completely respectful way, are advocating on behalf of their defence industry and you would expect that and it's totally appropriate," Mr Marles told reporters on Wednesday.

"We've been completely clear and upfront and honest with the French and they know that too, and I think they appreciate that."

The former Morrison government announced it would scrap the almost 50 Taipan helicopters and replace them with the US Black Hawks.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with French President Emmanuel Macron in July and Australia is hoping to host the president later in the year.

Mr Albanese has said the government is working towards a "reset" of the relationship with France after tensions were strained when the Morrison government scrapped a $90 billion submarine contract.

Mr Marles said he was confident the relationship with France was moving forward.

But the defence minister added that Australia will continue to assess all of its capabilities to ensure they're cost effective and fit for purpose.

"We need to be making sure we have the best capability possible but it needs to provide value for money," he said.

Mr Marles has launched a review of defence's posture to determine what needs to be done to bridge capability gaps until Australia is able to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines.

The review is due to be handed down in March.