Selection by Austria of a medium-lift helicopter has slipped to the mid-year after funding was not included in the 2000 budget announced on 21 March. A decision had been expected in February.

The Ministry of Defence will decide between the Eurocopter AS532UC Cougar and the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk. It requires nine machines and is likely to take options on a further three (Flight International, 18-24 January).

Austria's financial year runs from 1 January, but the formation of a new coalition government delayed the budget process.

The defence ministry says that, following a decision, the winner will supply one or two helicopters with instructor pilots by late December.

As part of the deal that allowed the coalition government to form, the two parties have agreed to continue with a fighter competition. Austria needs to replace its Saab Drakens, and has evaluated the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D, Boeing F/A-18C/D, MAPO MiG-29, Dassault's Mirage 2000-5 and the Saab/BAE Systems Gripen.

Source: Flight International