The Australian Defence Materiel Organisation has released tender documents for the supply of up to 24 new combat helicopters for the Australian Navy.

The procurement of new naval combat helicopters is part of the Australian Defence Capability Plan project AIR 9000 phase 8.

Australian defence minister John Faulkner said the new naval combat helicopter will enhance the navy’s ability to conduct a range of maritime combat and other operations, including anti-submarine and surface warfare.

Two likely candidates are either the Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin-built MH-60R, or the Nato Helicopter Industries NH90 NFH.

“The competition to select a new helicopter has commenced on schedule ahead of a final decision about the new helicopter in 2011,” Faulkner said.

Minister for Defence Materiel and Science Greg Combet said the competitive process would allow the companies to offer innovative solutions that satisfy the capability, cost and schedule requirements.