Singapore delays $1
billion military helicopter buy after Super Puma crash:
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[June 21, 2016]
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 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.
Singaporeís procurement, pitting Airbus Helicopters against Italian
firm Leonardo Finmeccanica, marks the first major test of confidence
in the military version of the aircraft since Aprilís 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
"We cannot comment on discussions we may or may not be having with
Singapore," an Airbus Helicopters spokesman said in an email
Safety is the company's "chief priority" and it is working with
investigators to identify the "root cause" of the Norwegian crash,
he added. It is also "providing support to customers who are flying
mission-critical operations" with the Super Puma family of
helicopters, he added.
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A French Air Force helicopter Super Puma is seen during the close
air support (CAS) exercise Serpentex 2016 hosted by France in the
Mediterranean island of Corsica, at Solenzara air base, March 16,
2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
Singapore has Southeast Asia's largest defense budget - even in the
context of increased spending across the region as China becomes
more assertive in the South China Sea. Modern military technology is
key for Singapore, which needs to compensate for a small size and
The island has long sought to replace its Super Pumas, which have an average age
of 27 years, and a decision was expected in the first half of 2016 after an
While the Leonardo-Finmeccanica AW101 was also shortlisted, sources said that
the Airbus H225M was the frontrunner.
The Norwegian crash happened after the main rotor blades separated from the
aircraft. Norwegian investigators said on June 2 that they had found
metallurgical evidence that was "strongly consistent with fatigue" in a part of
The next day, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) grounded all civil
Super Pumas. This decision, however, does not apply to military fleets.
(Reporting By Siva Govindasamy; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in PARIS;
Editing by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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