The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO)has issued requests for clarification to Eurocopter and Sikorsky on their proposals for the rationalisation of the Australian Defence Force helicopter fleet under Project Air 9000. A winner for the A$5 billion ($3.8 billion) project will be announced in June.

The DMO has told both companies it is no longer considering the planned Air 9000 Phase 2 additional trooplift helicopter requirement for the Australian Army separately from the Phase 4 mid-life upgrade or replacement requirement for 36 army Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawk helicopters. This means the June decision represents new business to either company worth around A$1.75-2.5 billion.

Both companies have been told to provide clarification data to the DMO over the next two months, rather than submit revised bids. DMO sources say the requests do not represent a best and final offer process; rather the intention is to reduce several risks associated with the strategic rationalisation plan.

Eurocopter and Sikorsky are expected to provide responses to the DMO by late March. Air 9000 is seeking to establish a 20-year strategic partnership with a single helicopter supplier.

Source: Flight International