Germany is proceeding with a project to replace its navy's fleet of 22 Westland Sea Lynx anti-submarine warfare helicopters, but does not yet have a date for launching the procurement.
The fleet is set to retire in 2025, and in December last year the "functional requirements" for a replacement were approved by the German chief of defence, says the Bundeswehr.
Sustainment of the Sea Lynx fleet – which began to enter service from 1981 – is becoming an increasing challenge for the navy, with an average of only six aircraft deployable in 2017.
Germany's federal procurement office is now developing several proposals for a successor aircraft, the defence ministry says, and is carrying out a market survey. However, a request for proposals is not expected to be issued in 2018.
It offers no detail on manufacturers that may have expressed an interest in the emerging contest, nor the number of aircraft it will seek.
Contenders for the requirement are likely to the NH Industries NH90 – already selected by the navy to replace its elderly Sea King fleet – the Leonardo Helicopters AW159 Wildcat, and the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk.
Airbus Helicopters could also pitch the H160M, which is to be developed for France as part of a tri-service procurement.
However, with France delaying acquisition of the helicopters until later in the 2020s, it is doubtful the H160M would be available in the required timeframe.