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ILA: Sikorsky builds team for German helicopter bid

Sikorsky is busy at the show assembling its team to bid for Germany's twin requirements for an air force combat search and rescue (CSAR) helicopter and a replacement for the navy's ageing Sea Kings.

Discussions with MTU Aero Engines are well advanced and a deal should be agreed during ILA, while an expected agreement with Rheinmetall is further off, said Sikorsky vice-president sales for Europe, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Joseph Gigantelli, at the show yesterday. Ruag and ZF Luftfahrttechnik have already signed up to the team.

Sikorsky aims to persuade Germany of the merits of choosing its S-92-based CH-148 Cyclone as a common platform for the separate air force and navy requirements, despite the fact that some of the former's performance requirements may not be met.

Joseph Gigantelli - Sikorsky, Billypix
 © Billypix

The air force has issued a request for proposals for eight CSAR helicopters plus 11 options, while the navy wants 30 aircraft to replace Sea Kings and Westland Lynxs, as well as equipping its new fleet of frigates.

"We think we have the only common platform that can solve both these requirements," says Gigantelli. "The navy requirement we can meet quite comfortably. The air force has a couple of missions we're looking at quite seriously - they've raised the bar pretty high."

Sikorsky also emphasises the "low risk" nature of its proposal, given that Canada is putting into operation a similar aircraft.

"By the time Germany is ready to fly their airplane, this aircraft will have been in service for two or three years," says Gigantelli, adding that "we intend to have final assembly, completion and flight testing jobs in Germany".

The air force and navy selections are due to be made during the fourth quarter of 2010, leading to contract award in 2011. Boeing and Eurocopter are also in the running for the air force order, while the navy RFP was sent only to Eurocopter and Sikorsky.