The Canadian Government has approved a C$600 million ($446 million) programme to acquire or lease 15 new search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters to replace its fleet of 13 CH-113 Labrador Helicopters.

Defence minister David Collenette says that a separate decision on the purchase of up to 32 naval helicopters is expected by March.

The defence department will give potential SAR suppliers a revised list of operational requirements by mid-December and will formally ask for bids "in early 1996".

If a winning contractor is selected by the scheduled date of late 1996, deliveries would begin in December 1998 and finish in October 2001.

Air Force Brigadier General Keith McDonald says, that he expects at least five firms to submit bids, including Sikorsky, offering a variant of the HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter; Boeing, with the CH-47D Chinook; Kamov, pushing its Ka-32; Agusta/Westland, marketing the AW520 Cormorant, a derivative of the EH101; and Eurocopter, with the AS.532 Cougar.

Source: Flight International