A joint Nordic request for information (RFI) covering the planned procurement of 50-80 heavy transport helicopters has been issued to 10 manufacturers. A selection could be made later this year if a common airframe can be found for the joint requirement for Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden. The four countries could begin taking delivery of the aircraft from 2003.

Denmark requires helicopters to use in the search and rescue role, while Finland is looking for between 20-30 aircraft for tactical transport purposes. Norway needs its helicopters for shipborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) use and Sweden will deploy its aircraft in the combined tactical transport/ ASW role.

Nordic Standard Helicopter Programme deputy programme director Karl-Gustav Storgards says: "We will try to find a common solution and we have issued the RFI to find out if it is possible." He admits that given the diverse requirements of the four countries it could prove difficult to find a common airframe.

Current plans call for a briefing of the Nordic ministers of defence to take place by 3 May and for it to give a recommendation. The evaluation of competing types is being handled by a joint project office based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The RFI has been sent to: Agusta; GKN Westland; EH Industries; Eurocopter; NH Industries; PZL Swidnik of Poland; Rusvertol of Russia (the export agency representing Mil and Kamov); Bell Helicopter Textron, Boeing Helicopter, Kaman, Sikorsky and Kawasaki.

Source: Flight International