THE UK MINISTRY of Defence's (MoD's) Equipment Approvals Committee (EAC) has recommended that the British Aerospace Nimrod 2000 be selected to meet the Royal Air Force's £2 billion maritime-patrol aircraft requirement in preference to two separate P-3 Orion bids from Lockheed Martin.

Sources close to the competition say that the EAC came out in favour of an upgraded Nimrod, with the Lockheed Martin Orion 2000 in second place.

The recommendation now goes to the Overseas Policy and Defence Committee, which consists of senior cabinet members, to be discussed before a final announcement in mid-July.

One source says that the "-EAC decision was just a skirmish: the big guns will now be being wheeled out".

The MoD declines to comment beyond saying that "-no final decision has been taken".

The EAC has also been examining other major procurements, including the RAF's requirement for a conventional stand-off missile.

Following EAC deliberations, queries relating to terms and conditions have been issued to British Aerospace (offering the Storm Shadow Matra Apache derivative) and Daimler-Benz/Bofors (bidding with the KEPD 350).

The Pentagon's decision to select Lockheed Martin and McDonnell Douglas (MDC) for a similar US Air Force and Navy requirement has also provided substantial last-minute impetus to the MDC Grand Slam Plus bid for the RAF. The company submitted revised costs to the MoD on 24 June.

Source: Flight International