The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) is close to confirming a deal for three AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters, adding to the Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphins it ordered last year.

"It is hoped a contract will be concluded in the near future for three aircraft. These aircraft would be used for long-range search and rescue [SAR] and maritime patrol duties," says AgustaWestland. The Finmeccanica subsidiary has not revealed the value of the contract or the delivery schedule.

The agency, which is responsible for patrolling Malaysian waters, was established in 2005 to remove overlapping functions between various government agencies. It focuses much of its attention on the Straits of Malacca, a vital global shipping artery, to crack down on piracy and smuggling. It said last year that it plans to acquire 12 helicopters in total, six from Eurocopter and six from AgustaWestland.

Last year, the MMEA signed a contract for three AS365s and all have been delivered to the agency. The agency is expected eventually to acquire 12 helicopters - six each from Eurocopter and AgustaWestland.

It is keen to acquire fixed-wing and amphibian capability and is evaluating proposals for aircraft including the ATR 42, Bombardier Dash 8, Fokker 50 and Beechcraft King Air 350.