Ireland has issued a request for tenders (RFT) for up to five medium-lift helicopters for search and rescue (SAR) and utility transport roles. Meanwhile, Singapore is expected to release shortly a request for proposals (RFP) for similarly sized machines to equip its new landing ships (LSTs).

The Irish defence ministry says the RFT has been issued to EH Industries, Eurocopter and Sikorsky for the EH101, EC725 and S-92, respectively and to CHC Scotia which provides, as Bond Ireland, contractorised SAR services at Dublin and Shannon using Sikorsky S-61Ns for the Irish Department of the Marine.

The Irish Air Corps is initially seeking two machines for SAR with an option for a third and two more options for utility transports.

A Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin at Donegal and an Aerospatiale Alouette III at Waterford will be replaced by the first two new helicopters. Later machines would replace further Alouette III's.

Industry sources say that Singapore's RFP is expected to be issued this month. It is believed that responses will be called for by June with a potential contract signing in the first quarter of next year. Singapore has been tight-lipped about the LSTs' flight deck capabilities, but the ships can handle Super Pumas, suggesting the Sikorsky CH-60S or S-92, EH101 or NH Industries' NH90 could also be in the running. In the longer term, Singapore will need to replace its 34 Super Pumas, which were recently upgraded to extend service life to at least 2005.

Meanwhile, industry sources say that Portugal has selected EHI and Sikorsky for negotiation to provide eight to 12 SAR helicopters and two machines for fishery protection.

Source: Flight International