The Harper government has awarded a contract worth up to $172 million for 15 light coast guard helicopters, despite facing a court challenge and accusations that the winner was given an unfair advantage.

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel announced the deal with Bell Helicopter today, heralding it as a way to stimulate economic growth and create Canadian jobs.

Under the terms of the contract, the first of the Bell model 429 helicopters will start arriving a year from now, with one new helicopter delivered each month thereafter.

Shea said the purchase will support more than 200 direct and indirect jobs.

Long before the contract was awarded, rival manufacturer Eurocopter, which produces aircraft in Fort Erie, Ont., launched a court challenge claiming Transport Canada gave Bell a leg-up by granting its model 429 a crucial weight exemption.

The accusation that specifications were rigged prompted both Eurocopter and AgustaWestland to pull out of the bidding.