Taiwan’s air force has selected Sikorsky to deliver three search and rescue (SAR)-configured S-92s from 2007, while Japan will also decide by year-end between the same type and Eurocopter’s EC225 to meet a similar, two-aircraft requirement.

Industry sources say the air force decided last week to acquire S-92s rather than additional Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawks and that the service will sign a contract next year if it can convince the Taiwanese government to include the purchase in its 2006 budget, to be finalised over the next two months.

Taiwan’s SAR squadron currently operates 17 S-70 Black Hawks and ultimately hopes to replace these – in particular its 10 older-model aircraft – with additional S-92s.

Last week, Japan’s coastguard also handed Eurocopter and Sikorsky the final version of its technical requirement for two new large helicopters to be used for SAR duties and to transport the country’s rapid-reaction forces. Final bids will be submitted by the end of this month, and the coastguard plans to quickly award a contract. It plans eventually to acquire up to 10 aircraft, with the first two set for delivery in mid-2007. The rest will follow from early 2008.

Sikorsky has yet to formally launch the proposed SAR variant of its S-92, but is also promoting the aircraft to China and as a candidate for the US Air Force’s planned 141-aircraft combat search and rescue requirement.


Source: Flight International