GKN Westland is exploring the potential of the Asia-Pacific market for resale of secondhand UK Ministry of Defence tactical helicopters now becoming available.

British Army Air Corps Westland Lynx AH7s and Royal Navy Westland Sea King HAS5/6s will become available for export as significant numbers of the types are withdrawn from UK service. The Lynx will be superseded by the GKN Westland WAH-64 Apache, with the EH Industries EH101 eventually replacing the Sea Kings.

The company says that credible opportunities exist in the region for refurbished airframes. In the Philippines, GKN Westland is considering whether to bid for the air force's search and rescue requirement with refurbished Sea Kings. Some six ex-UK Sea Kings are already available for export.

GKN Westland is also offering the Lynx AH7 to Malaysia as a replacement for the army's ageing Aerospatiale Alouette light tactical helicopters. The Lynx would probably be employed in the armed reconnaissance role.

The British Army will retain some Lynx, but some helicopters capable of carrying the TOW replacement anti-tank missile will become available as they are withdrawn.

Malaysia and GKN Westland are also in negotiation over the purchase of up to six Super Lynx 300 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters for the navy's frigate programme. A final contract could be concluded during the third quarter of this year. Despite the region's recent economic plight, the Malaysian ASW helicopter programme appears to remain on track.

The Super Lynx 300, for which Malaysia would be the launch customer, will have a glass cockpit, and the Rolls-Royce Gem engines will be replaced by LHTEC T800s, providing a much improved hot and high performance, coupled with reduced life cycle costs.

The Super Lynx will replace Malaysia's Westland Wasps in the ASW role, with the Wasps expected be retained for training. When eventually retired, these aircraft may be replaced with models capable of operating from Malaysia's planned future fleet of 27 offshore patrol vessels. GKN Westland and the USA's Kaman are to compete for this larger follow-on requirement, as they did for Malaysia's initial shipborne ASW helicopter procurement, with the Super Lynx and the SH-2G Super Seasprite, respectively.

The Super Lynx and the Super Seasprite will also be offered for the Philippines requirement for a total of up to nine multirole helicopters for its planned offshore patrol vessels. An invitation to tender for three 85m ships is expected to be released within the next month or two. Eurocopter, with the AS365 Dauphin and BO105C, is expected to bid alongside Kaman and GKN Westland for the rotary wing requirement.

Source: Flight International