Japan has acquired the first of three Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma VIP helicopters that will be used to replace its fleet of older-model AS332 Super Pumas. The Japan Defence Agency (JDA) says a contract for the first EC225 was signed last month and the aircraft will be delivered by the end of March 2006. The JDA is considering acquiring another two EC225s in fiscal 2006 to ensure its current fleet of three AS332s are replaced before the G8 Summit is held in Japan in 2010.

The AS332s are operated by the army for the prime minister and emperor. A few months ago Japan selected the EC225 without releasing a formal tender, which AgustaWestland and Sikorsky were ready to respond to by offering the EH101 and S-92, respectively (Flight International, 24-30 January). JDA planning and programming division director Kenichi Takahashi says the EC225 was selected without a competition because of time constraints.

Source: Flight International