The Indonesian police force is seeking two medium twin-engined helicopters this year and has put on hold earlier plans to acquire up to 22 additional light single-engined helicopters.

Industry sources say the police force has earmarked $20-25 million in its 2004 budget for two 12- to 15-seat helicopters and the government should approve the request within the next few months.

Last year the police purchased 18 Enstrom 480Bs as part of its plan to acquire 40 new light helicopters. However, with pressure to improve police transport to trouble spots across Indonesia, sources say the requirement is greater for larger cabin, longer-range helicopters.

The police force now operates 15 Eurocopter BO105s and four 480Bs on surveillance missions, with another 14 Enstroms scheduled for delivery by October. The police's transport fleet is limited to one Bell 412 and this type is considered the early favourite in the new competition. The Eurocopter EC155 and Sikorsky S-76 will also be evaluated.

Indonesian Aerospace, which is trying to set up a manufacturing partnership with PZL-Swidnik, is pitching the smaller SW-4. However, the police force is said to favour Western types having already rejected 11 PZL-Swidnik Mi-2s purchased in counter-trade. The aircraft will be used by the Indonesian navy.

Additional fixed-wing aircraft are also sought to add to two Raytheon Beechcraft 1900Ds that were acquired last year.

Source: Flight International