Equipment requests contained within Taiwan's tender document for three new search and rescue helicopters has thrown into doubt assertions that the aircraft are intended for civil use.

Taipei announced in February that it had selected Eurocopter's EC225 to meet its SAR requirements. The civil version of the EADS company's EC725 Super Cougar combat SAR design will be flown by Taiwan's air force, the defence ministry confirms.

"The EC225s sold to Taiwan are civil helicopters, equipped for search and rescue missions," says Eurocopter. "Their configuration is similar to the one chosen by numerous countries, which have selected the EC225 for the same missions."

 EC225 SAR - Patrick Penna Eurocopter
© Patrick Penna/Eurocopter

However, a copy of the tender document obtained by Flight International shows that Taiwan wants its new helicopters to have military equipment.

The aircraft must be able to "detect missile seeker signals", with an "early warning and countermeasure system" to help their crews avoid "missile and artillery fire attack", the document says. Chaff and flare dispensers should also protect against possible attack by radar- and infrared-guided weapons.

Requested equipment also includes identification friend or foe equipment to "enable military and national interrogation systems to distinguish friendly aircraft", it says. "The transmitting signals must be able to be received by ground station, aircraft and ship and to identify mission type and friend or foe," it adds.

The EC225's flight management system must also be integrated with tactical air navigation equipment, while communications systems must be able to operate using Taiwan's military bandwidth.

Source: Flight International