Denmark is expected to narrow a competition for a new maritime helicopter to two contenders during November, with the selected type likely to enter service from around 2015.
Types in contention are the AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat, Eurocopter AS565 Panther and Sikorsky S-70 Seahawk, said Lt Col Steen Ulrich, chief of operations and acting commander of the Danish Helicopter Wing. The winning contractor to replace the nation's remaining Westland Lynx 90s should be announced in the middle of next year, Ulrich said.
Under current plans, operations with the current Lynx fleet are expected to end in 2017. Seven are in frontline use, with an eighth having been damaged during a non-fatal accident off Greenland on 22 August.
Speaking at Shephard's HeliPower conference in Farnborough, Hampshire in the UK on 19 October, Ulrich said the mishap occurred after the helicopter's tail rotor driveshaft failed while it was hovering before landing on a moored ship. Its crew and passengers all escaped injury in the subsequent ditching, but the aircraft "is probably a write-off", he added.
One of the remaining Lynx was deployed in October to support NATO's counter-piracy operation "Ocean Shield" off the Horn of Africa. The Danish aircraft commitment is expected to run through to at least March 2012.
Meanwhile, the Danish Helicopter Wing now expects to be ready to deploy a long-term detachment of two AW101 Merlin tactical transport helicopters to Afghanistan by late 2013, Ulrich said. The Royal Danish Air Force had originally planned to meet the possible commitment from mid-2011, but its 722 Sqn has struggled to meet its planned flying hour and availability targets with the type, which also delivers search-and-rescue services from Karup air base.