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Canada is shortly expected to formally start its maritime helicopter project (MHP) with the release of a statement of requirement. Budget restrictions, however, may force a cut in the size of the planned purchase.

According to industry officials, the Canadian Government has completed drafting an operational requirements and procurement plan. The next step is to announce a go-ahead for the C$2 billion ($1.4 billion) MHP programme and develop a strategy to evaluate competing submissions.

This is expected to lead to the release of a request for proposals by the end of the year calling for submissions by mid-2001. The Canadian Forces wants to begin replacing its ageing Sikorsky CH-124 Sea Kings by 2005.

The requirement is for 32 helicopters, but available funding may reduce this to 22 machines. A multirole capability is required encompassing anti-submarine warfare, economic exclusion zone enforcement, peacekeeping and disaster relief missions.

Canada is expected to equip the MHP with a low-frequency dipping sonar, a search radar with an inverted synthetic aperture mode and be capable of providing over-the-horizon-targeting for ship-launched Harpoon missiles. Endurance will be 3h, plus reserves.

A selection will probably be between the EH Industries EH101, Eurocopter AS532 Cougar 2/3 or the Sikorsky S-92.

For EHI, the MHP is its second chance after Ottawa earlier abandoned a C$5.3 billion purchase of EH101s.

Source: Flight International