WASHINGTON, July 14 (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department said on Tuesday it was "closely monitoring" the potential sale of helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft by its parent company, United Technologies Corp and that it would evaluate any deal on a case-by-case basis.
Sources familiar with the situation last week said Lockheed Martin Corp is the leading candidate to buy Sikorsky - the Pentagon's leading helicopter supplier - in a deal that could value the business at more than $8 billion.
Textron Inc, the parent of Bell Helicopter, is also bidding for the firm.
Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann declined comment on those reports, but said it was important to the department to maintain competition and avoid market distortions.
"The department intervenes in the marketplace only when necessary to maintain appropriate competition - balanced against market efficiency pressures," she said. "This includes being watchful for consolidations that eliminate competition or cause market distortions that are not in the department's best interest."
The U.S. Defense Department can raise objections to a merger or acquisition involving its key suppliers during a federal antitrust review that would be led by the U.S. Justice Department.
Schuman said the department expected some "reasonable activity" in the defense industrial base as businesses repositioned themselves and rebalanced their portfolios.
"We look at those on a case-by-case basis -- on its particular merits in the context of the individual market and the changing dynamics of that market," she said. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Christian Plumb)