THE ROYAL NEW Zealand Navy (RNZN) has completed its replacement naval helicopter evaluation and recommended selection of the LHTEC T800-powered Westland Super Lynx.

Sources in Westland and Kaman confirm that the RNZN's evaluation has favoured a Super Lynx. It is understood that the Navy's project office is now being wound down.

Final selection remains subject to political approval, and this has been postponed until after New Zealand's general election on 12 October. Deferring an official decision is also intended to bring the RNZN's programme in line with Australia's selection of a new naval helicopter, which is now scheduled, for mid-October.

The RNZN requires up to six helicopters to replace its fleet of Westland Wasps. With the Wasps due to be phased out by mid-1997, and the first of New Zealand's new ANZAC frigates due to enter service shortly, the Navy has asked to lease Royal Navy Lynx helicopters as a stop-gap measure.

Australia's project 1411/1427 calls for the purchase of 14 new shipboard helicopters, with an option for a further nine. The Royal Australian Navy's selection has been narrowed down to the Super Lynx and Kaman SH-2G Super SeaSprite.

Source: Flight International