Helicopter manufacturers are lining up to bid for a three-year vertical replenishment (vertrep) contract in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf, following the release by the US Navy of a fresh request for proposals (RfP).

Kaman, which will be offering its K-Max heavy lift helicopter, says it expects a firm decision "by the end of August" with bids due to be lodged at the end of this month.

Evergreen is also believed to be pushing its 212 and 214STs.

The contract calls for two aircraft to be deployed aboard Military Sealift Command replenishment ships and carries the potential to be extended for up to five years.

The aircraft will be required to carry an underslung load of stores and ammunition weighing 2,000kg (4,500lb) and also the ability to cope with 'hot and high' conditions.

Kaman recently revealed that the K-Max had been certificated by the FAA for instrument flight rules (IFR) for day and night operations, a move which meets one of the key criteria for the US Navy's vertrep programme.

Winning this particular contract would be a major boost for Kaman, marking the first significant entry into the military arena for the twin-rotor K-Max.

Kaman chief test pilot George Haliscak says: "It effectively shows commercial operators that the US Government has confidence in us to go ahead and do this.


"The aircraft has a proven capability not just for heavy lift operations but also for working in extreme conditions. We're confident that our bid will be successful."

Both the K-Max and the 212 and 214STs have already performed vertrep demonstrations for the US Navy, including a six-month K-Max deployment to the Gulf in 1996, followed by the Evergreen aircraft the following year.

Source: Flight Daily News