Financing concerns overcome as manufacturer beats off Eurocopter and Schweizer in police helicopter contest

Indonesia's police force plans to acquire 18 Enstrom 480B helicopters and two Raytheon Beechcraft 1900D turboprops to bolster its patrol capabilities.

The 480B outscored the Eurocopter EC120 and Schweizer 333 in a competition that concluded at the end of May. But the Indonesian ministry of finance's concerns over Enstrom's financing proposal threatened to derail the acquisition in early June, giving new hope to Schweizer and other potential manufacturers (Flight International, 17-23 June).

Enstrom has since resolved the financing issues by securing a loan guarantee from BNP Paribas Bank. Enstrom originally proposed a direct loan with the US Ex-Im Bank, which is backing both the $17 million helicopter and $14 million fixed-wing purchase. But industry sources say the ministry wanted to include a private bank to expedite the deal and help make sure all aircraft were delivered by April 2004 as required.

Enstrom shipped two 480Bs and Raytheon ferried two 1900Ds to Jakarta for a 1 July police anniversary event that included a fly-over with the new aircraft. But formal delivery of the first aircraft is still waiting on completion of the loan agreements and a 15% downpayment. Rival manufacturers still believe the deals could be derailed for political or financial reasons and are waiting on the sidelines should a new opportunity arise.

Indonesia expects to acquire an additional 10 to 20 helicopters and possibly more fixed-wing aircraft by 2005 to further bolster its police fleet. Enstrom and Raytheon are hopeful of follow-on contracts, but Indonesia is already looking at possible alternatives, including the PZL-Swidnik-built Mi-2 helicopter and M28 Skytruck. A PZL deal could be completed later this year.

Source: Flight International