NH Industries (NHI) has submitted two key pricing proposals for the four-nation NH90 military-utility helicopter, covering the production-investment phase and an initial procurement batch.

The proposals, one of which covers purchasing 200 NH90s, were sent to NAEHMA, the NATO agency managing the programme for the four partners: France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The submissions prepare the way for a decision on whether the partners will sign an memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 1998 covering either investment in tooling for the helicopter, or for tooling, plus production of the initial batch.

While money for tooling, estimated at around ECU 708 million ($823 million), is almost certain to be agreed, doubts remain on the willingness of the partners to fund an initial production run at the same time. NHI says that providing exact costings for NH90 versions is "very difficult" because of uncertainties on overall numbers and configurations.

The company's original unit-cost estimate in 1994 was Fr90 million ($15.3 million) and Fr145 million for the TTH tactical-transport and NFH naval-frigate helicopters, respectively. These figures are certain to change, depending on the configurations chosen by each partner.

Increasing budget constraints on the armed forces of the partner countries have led NHI to provide "kits-on-option" proposals for the mission equipment packages.

These account for a large slice of the overall price and provide a range of alternatives to the full mission equipment packages specified in the original contract.

NHI marketing director Alain Gautier reveals that the decision on final configuration will be taken "within a month". As to numbers, Gautier says that the nominal figure of a total production run of 647 machines still stands, "although that will be confirmed at the MoU signing in 1998".

Source: Flight International