25 Februari 2012
S-92 helicopter. Sikorsky is seeking to expand its market in Thailand by bidding to supply choppers for the kingdom’s first dedicated search and rescue operation. (photo : AirShowsReview)
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp, the US helicopter producer known for its Black Hawk make, is seeking to expand its market in Thailand by putting a bid to supply aircraft for the kingdom's first dedicated search and rescue operation.
The Connecticut-based company will contest in a competitive international bid to be issued next week by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to deliver up to 16 helicopters for SAR missions in a transaction that could reach a value of more than US$320 million (9.8 billion baht).
Sikorsky will pitch its S-92, the larger advanced utility which can carry up to 19 passengers in airline-style configuration, against other bidders in the RTAF contest, Daniel Zsebik, Sikorsky's director for sales in Asia, told the Bangkok Post in Bangkok.
Although the RTAF's programme involves 16 helicopters, its initial budget would allow the procurement of four.
Depending on how the chopper is equipped with sophisticated technology and add-ons, an S-92 could cost $20-24 million a piece, Mr Zsebik said.
Included in its bid will be the training of RTAF pilots in the US and Britain in operating the S-92 as well as sending Sikorsky's own trainer pilots to Thailand to assist Thai pilots to ensure they can handle the aircraft properly.
Ahead of the RTAF bid, Sikorsky this week staged a series of demonstration flights over Greater Bangkok skies to the Thai armed forces to show off the S-92's multi-mission capabilities.
The Thai visit is part of an Asian tour of S-92 "Legacy of Heroes" (LOH) helicopter and includes Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and India - all considered potential buyers of the aircraft for different purposes including for SAR, as offshore oil rig transport and as a carrier for heads of state.
Thai armed forces already have Sikorsky helicopters in their fleets - Black Hawks with the Royal Thai Army, S-92s at the RTAF (used as carriers for royals) and the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) which flies Sea Hawks and S-76s which can carry 12 people.
The S-92 has a range of 880km with a top speed of 306km/hour.