SH-60F Seahawk Helis for Tunisia
On July 2/10, the US DSCA announced [PDF] Tunisia’s formal request to buy 12 refurbished US Navy SH-60F Seahawk utility Helicopters, plus associated equipment. The SH-60Fs would be offered as Excess Defense Articles (grant EDA notification is being submitted separately). In the US Navy, the SH-60F is a utility and search and rescue helicopter, with secondary submarine hunter capabilities via its dipping sonar and sonobuoys. This distinguishes it from its SH-60B Seahawk/LAMPS counterpart, which adds a maritime radar and surface attack capabilities.
Tunisia is expected to use the helicopters for border/sea surveillance, search and rescue, and utility duties. The country sits between Libya and Algeria on the southern Mediterranean coast, right across from Italy, so naval helicopters are very useful to them. Its air force currently flies some old H-3/S-61 Sea Kings, so even used SH-60Fs would represent a frugal upgrade. The recent fall of Tunisia’s government has placed this deal in doubt…
Contracts & Key Events
Jan 15/11: Tunisia’s government effectively falls, as President Zine Abidine Ben Ali flees for Saudi Arabia after firing the country’s government.
Amidst the ashes, a transitional “unity government” is drawn together that includes both supporters and opponents of the ousted President. The government’s stability remains in question, as it attempts to last the 6 months required to hold effective elections. Timeline | AFP | CSM | The Guardian.
July 2/10: The US DSCA announced [PDF] Tunisia’s formal request to buy 12 refurbished US Navy SH-60F Seahawk utility Helicopters, plus associated equipment: 29 T700-GE-401C engines (24 installed and 5 spares), spare and repairs parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.
The estimated cost is up to $282 million, but the final figure must be negotiated if a deal is done. General Electric in Lynn, MA would be the engine prime contractor, and implementation of this proposed sale will require 2 contractor representatives in Tunisia for familiarization training, for 2 years. U.S. Government and contractor representatives will also be required to participate in program management and program and technical reviews, training, and maintenance support for 1 week intervals, semi-annually for 3 years.
- WIRED Danger Room (Jan 14/11) – U.S. Had Helo Deal With Ousted Tunisian Dictator. Cannot find confirmation that a contract was ever signed. The question is whether Tunisia will still see the helicopters as a priority.