Portugal has selected Agusta Westland's EH101 helicopter for its fisheries protection and long-range search and rescue (SAR) requirements, ordering 14 machines and two options.

A decision was delayed by a last minute offer from Sikorsky to cut its S-92 bid price, which led to the Portuguese defence ministry seeking best and final offers from the two companies, which were delivered on 23 November.

The decision to seek final offers delayed a contract signing and endangered Lisbon's access to European Union funding for 50% of the fisheries protection helicopters. The price of the winning Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM322-powered EH101 package was cut to €351 million ($325million) from €393 million with the GE-powered machine reduced by a similar amount, while Sikorsky's S-92 bid was scaled back from €371 million to c330 million.

Losing Portugal is a further blow to Sikorsky, with the EH101 and NH Industries NH90 triumphing in other recent European contests, including the Nordic Standard Helicopter Programme. The next selection due is Ireland's SAR and utility machine requirement. The order will initially be limited to two SAR machines, a single SAR option and two utility helicopter options.

Source: Flight International