PLANS TO replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Bell 47 Sioux training helicopters are moving ahead with publication of an Invitation to Register (ITR) interest for the NZ Defence Force Helicopter Capability Project. Interested parties had to register by July 25, with the ITR seeking companies that can provide an in-production helicopter meeting the requirements in the ITR. Four to eight helicopters will be required, the exact number to be determined later.
Unlike the Sioux that it will replace, the new helicopter is required to fulfil a much more advanced rotary-wing aircrew training role, enabling crews to easily move on to the NH90 and SH-2G(NZ) Seasprite. The helicopter must be capable of training pilots and aircrewmen in all aspects of day and night VFR and IFR operations, including use of night vision goggles, conducting winching operations and carriage of underslung loads. In addition, it will also be required to undertake the light utility role. In addition to manufacture and delivery of a training/light utility helicopter, appropriate technical and integrated logistic support must also be provided and a competitive ‘value for money’ assessment will be made between submitted ITRs.
With the ITRs now submitted, the New Zealand Ministry of Defence will identify and select those respondents which it considers most suitable and issue a Request for Proposals for their best and final offers. A formal contract is expected later next year, with entry into service planned for early 2007.