With its Eurocopter AS350 and AS355 helicopters nearing the end of their service lives, the Brazilian navy is drawing up the specifications for the aircraft that is expected to replace both types at the end of the decade.

A request for information linked to the utility helicopter programme is expected to cover a request to supply 20 to 24 twin-engined shipborne-capable helicopters, and is likely to be issued late this year or early in 2013.

Sources suggest that the procurement could be managed by purchasing aircraft in annual batches. While the navy has not disclosed potential candidates, AgustaWestland's AW109 and Eurocopter's EC645 are expected to be frontrunners.

The Brazilian navy operates 17 AS/HB350s and eight AS355s, as recorded by Flightlgobal's HeliCAS database. The types perform a wide variety of tasks, ranging from armed border surveillance to lighthouse support.

Source: Flight International