OSLO, Norway, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- AgustaWestland has been selected by Norway as the preferred bidder for a contract to supply the government with new search-and-rescue helicopters.
The decision to enter into final negotiations for procurement of AW101 aircraft was announced Friday by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
The ministry said other contract bidders -- Eurocopter, NHI and Sikorsky – had been informed of the decision.
"I am very pleased that we are now coming forward in the acquisition process for the new search-and-rescue helicopters," Minister of Justice and Public Security Anders Anundsen said.
The AW101 is a medium lift military/civilian use helicopter with a top speed of 192 miles per hour, a range of 517 miles and a flight endurance of five hours.
Norway intends to procure 16 new aircraft -- with an option for six more -- to replace its fleet of Sea King search-and-rescue helicopters, which are to be retired by 2020.