Malaysia is nearing selection of a light-utility helicopter (LUH) to meet the army's long-standing light-observation/scout requirement, with a decision expected in the next two months. The AgustaWestland A109M and Eurocopter EC635 are on Kuala Lumpur's shortlist for up to nine aircraft.

It remains unclear whether Portugal's recent cancellation of an order for nine EC635s because of delivery delays and military certification problems will influence the Malaysian decision. Eurocopter says the Portuguese move stemmed from a "disagreement over whether or not certain weapon system integration work was to be included as part of the contract" (Flight International, 20-26 August).

The Malaysian army had been expected to follow the country's navy in purchasing Eurocopter AS555Ns, but concerns over whether the aircraft could meet mission requirements caused a rethink on its selection. The navy ordered six AS555Ns for pilot training ahead of the start of naval Super Lynx deliveries scheduled for next year.

The army tender was reopened with Eurocopter changing its bid to the EC635. AgustaWestland is offering the same LUH version of the A109 which it sold to South Africa in 2000, and to Sweden last year. "We are still in discussions and are awaiting the decision of the Malaysian government," says the company.

Source: Flight International