Qatar has entered the market for a new maritime helicopter to replace a small fleet of ageing Westland Sea King Commando Mk 3 variants.

The government's interest was announced on 22 September by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which notified Congress of a possible foreign military sale of six Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawks.

The notification means Qatar is interested in the MH-60R but does not rule out a competitive bidding process. The type often competes for orders with the NH Industries NH90, but it is not clear if Doha is seeking other bids.

 MH-60R US Navy - WIll Horton Flightglobal
© Will Horton/Flightglobal

Qatar's armed forces are largely equipped with British and French aircraft, but it has recently shown interest in US-sourced equipment. Since 2008, Qatar has ordered four Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules and two Boeing C-17A Globemaster III airlifters.

If the MH-60R bid is selected, Qatar is interested in buying six aircraft and 13 General Electric T700-401C engines, according to the DSCA.

The agency estimated the total cost of the deal at $750 million, including communications equipment, spares, tools, technical data, training and logistics support.

The Qatar Emiri Air Force has an active fleet of 12 Sea Kings which were delivered between 1975 and 1984, as listed in Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.

Source: Flight International