Malta is interested in replacing its armed forces inventory of three Aerospatiale SA316 Alouette III helicopters, according to a contract solicitation released by the EU on 30 August.
The Maltese government hopes to acquire up to three new aircraft, which will be primarily required to perform border control missions, using money from the EU's External Borders Fund (EBF) programme.
An initial deal to order one aircraft this year is outlined, with this to be "subject to availability of funds from the European Borders Fund programme 2012". An option for a second helicopter to be ordered in an identical configuration would also be contingent on securing EBF funds the following year, the notice says.
Valletta will also consider acquiring another identical aircraft from the same funding route in 2014, with its request noting: "bidders have to guarantee the supply of the third helicopter until the year 2015 with a justifiable and reasonable price escalation not exceeding 5%".
Armed Forces of Malta
Malta currently operates three 1976-vintage Alouette IIIs
Potential suppliers are due to respond to the request by 30 October, with Malta also seeking associated training services and potentially an in-service support package for the new type.
In addition to providing a border security function, the Maltese armed forces' current Alouettes are used to perform tasks including search and rescue and emergency response missions. Its aircraft were originally delivered to the Libyan army in 1976, as recorded by Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.
Malta has also recently acquired two Hawker Beechcraft King Air 200s configured for maritime patrol duties.