The facility, better known as a Multi-Purpose Test Bench (MPTB), will be the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is the leading European helicopter OEM and has operated its MPTB for over three decades.

The MPTB is a state-of-the-art, high-tech repair and overhaul facility for helicopter transmission systems and flight critical dynamic components.

The Australian Defence Force has actively sought this capability and its establishment will deliver a critical in-country support capability to the ADF which in turn will guarantee a faster turn-around and a cost-effective sustainment solution.

The location of the new facility is yet to be decided, but in line with both companies’ strong commitment to regional development, the new facility will be built in regional Australia. It is expected to be operational by 2014 and attract high-end aviation technical support jobs.

It will also be custom designed to meet the geo-seismic preconditions required to guarantee absolute stability during testing and analysis of gearboxes and transmission systems.

The facility will support the requirements for AIR9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6 and has the potential to support Phases 7 and 8 based on the platform, which is yet to be selected.

AgustaWestland considered several potential partners in Australia for this high-tech capability. BAE Systems was selected based on its performance and track record in rotary wing maintenance and support.

Under the agreement signed today between the two companies, BAE Systems will provide maintenance, engineering, logistics support and administration.

AgustaWestland Senior Vice President Government Sales, Giacomo Saponaro said: “With this team, we have brought together the world’s foremost rotorcraft capability provider in AgustaWestland, and one of the world’s most capable through life support partners in BAE Systems.”

BAE Systems Australia CEO Jim McDowell said: “BAE Systems has a proven, high-quality sustainment record. We believe our capability in the rotary wing domain will be integral to the successful development of this project.”