Ireland Drops S-92 Deal
After years of talks, meetings, competitions, flyoffs, and negotiations, the Irish government has decided to terminate a deal to buy three Sikorsky S-92 helicopters. The news is an especially telling blow to Sikorsky because the Irish deal had been supposedly the only firm, cash-on-the-barrelhead business it had signed for its medium-lift helicopter. Ireland had planned to spend nearly $12.3 million on the purchase this year, but was forced to contend with a $13.9 million cut in its defense budget. Just last January 17, Ireland had selected the S-92 over EH Industries’ EH-101, a decision that prompted that company to press a lawsuit alleging wrongdoing in the selection. The EH Industries suit is currently before Ireland’s highest court but is expected to be dropped in light of this latest development. Ireland depends on a small fleet of aging Sikorsky S-61s operated for the government by multinational helo giant CHC in the offshore search-and-rescue role. This relationship will apparently continue until further notice. The proposed S-92 buy was the largest single item on the current Irish military budget. For its part, Sikorsky expressed “surprise and dissappointment” at the move. Meanwhile, a working group had been convened to examine other options.