Singapore delays $1 billion military helicopter buy after Super Puma crash: sources
By Siva Govindasamy
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has delayed a decision on a $1 billion helicopter purchase after the crash in April of a civilian Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) Super Puma whose military version was the frontrunner to clinch the order, sources familiar with the matter said.
The city-state, a highly sought-after customer for military contractors, had sought to replace 32 ageing Super Pumas but the move has now been put on ice until there is clarity over the fallout from the April 29 crash which killed 13 oil workers and crew off the coast of Norway, they added.
The delay comes as the helicopters subsidiary of Airbus Group, called Airbus Helicopters, wrestles with the latest in a series of setbacks to the H225 Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry and widely used across the world for search and rescue and heavy military airlift operations.
Singapore’s procurement, pitting Airbus Helicopters against Italian firm Leonardo Finmeccanica (LDOF.MI: Quote), marks the first major test of confidence in the military version of the aircraft since April’s crash, which led to the worldwide grounding of the civilian version.
A fresh tender is not on the cards, said the sources, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. They could not say when a decision will be made.
Singapore has not so far announced any grounding of its military Super Pumas. Several other countries, including France and Brazil, continue to fly their Super Pumas.
Singapore's defense ministry did not provide an immediate response to a request for comment on the tender and its Super Puma operations.
"We cannot comment on discussions we may or may not be having with Singapore," an Airbus Helicopters spokesman said in an email Continued...