Taiwan’s Air Force will receive three Eurocopter EC225 Mk-2 Super Puma search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopters by the end of this year.

Defense News has reported that the delivery will depend on the schedule of the Taiwan pilots’ flight training programme that is currently underway in France.

Eurocopter was awarded the helicopter contract in December 2009, which also includes an option for a total of 20 helicopters.

The deal is the first European purchase made by Taiwan since the early 1990s after China blocked most European arms sales to the nation.

The new helicopters will be put into service in the second half of 2012.

Currently, the air force operates 17 Sikorsky S-70C helicopters for SAR and VIP missions.