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Norway close to deal for 16 AugustaWestland helicopters

OSLO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Norway is in final negotiations with AugustaWestland, a unit of Italian defence group Finmeccanica , to buy 16 search-and-rescue helicopters for use from 2017, the country's justice and public security ministry said on Friday.

The other bidders were Franco-German group Eurocopter, a unit of EADS, European defence group NHIndustries and Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies Corp, the ministry said.

The value of the deal was not disclosed. The Norwegian government will have an option to buy a further six helicopters.

New aircraft are to replace the existing fleet of Sea King helicopters by 2020.