Eurocopter üretimi EC-145'in ABD'nin LUH (Light Utility Helicopter) projesi için önerdiği versiyonu UH-145, söz konusu ihalede ipi göğüsleyen aday oldu.
Yaklaşık 3 milyar dolarlık proje ile tedarik edilece 322 adet hafif helikopter envanterdeki UH-1H ve OH-58'lerin yerini alacak.
UH-145'in ihaledeki diğer rakipleri AgustaWestland Bell AB-139 türevi olan US-139, McDonnell Douglas MD-900 ve Bell 412 idi.
ABD gibi son derece sıkı ithalat rejimine sahip bir ülkede gelen bu ikinci büyük başarı (ki ilki ABD Başkanlık helikopteri "Marine One" olarak EH-101 türevi US-101'in seçilmesiydi). Halihazırda devam eden muharebe arama kurtarma helikopteri ihalesinde de bu iki kayda değer başarıyı göz önünde tutarak, US-101'in avantajlı konuma geçtiği söylenebilir.
Europe's EADS wins big U.S. helicopter competition
Fri Jun 30, 2006 7:13 PM ET
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army on Friday said it chose French-German defense company EADS to build a new fleet of 322 light utility helicopters in a deal expected to be worth up to $3 billion over the longer term.
It marks the first major U.S. defense contract won by the North American unit of EADS, and comes as EADS prepares to bid against No. 2 U.S. defense contractor Boeing Co. for an even bigger contract to build hundreds of new aerial refueling tankers for the U.S. Air Force.
Analysts said the Army deal could also help EADS win more commercial and government orders for its twin-engine UH-145 rotary wing aircraft.
"It's great news for us," Ralph Crosby, chief executive of EADS North America, said in a teleconference with reporters. "We now have a customer, and a customer with a tremendously important mission."
EADS, teamed with Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp., beat out another European contender, Agusta Westland, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica SpA, which had joined forces with L-3 Communications Holdings; Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter unit; and MD Helicopters Inc., a small private company.
The Army said the initial contract award would be for $43 million. EADS, Europe's largest aerospace company, said the deal could be worth up to $3 billion over the next 20 years, including maintenance and support.
The new helicopters, based on Eurocopter's EC145, will replace hundreds of the Army's Vietnam-era UH-1s and Kiowas, and will also be used for homeland defense, humanitarian and other non-combat missions.
Col. Cory Mahanna, Army program manager, agreed the contract award would have "far reaching effects."
"This fleet of U.S. Army aircraft will benefit America in crisis situations, like those associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Hugo, and the aftermath of the Mount St. Helens' explosion," said Mahanna, adding that the helicopter would be an important new tool for homeland defense.
EADS has supplied helicopters to various U.S. agencies for the past two decades, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and the FBI, but the Army deal marks what it called its "first major system win as a prime contractor for the U.S. military."
Defense analyst Richard Aboulafia of the Virginia-based Teal Group said the selection of EADS amounted to "a solid endorsement of globalization," as well as the UH-145, to be built by American Eurocopter in Columbus, Mississippi.
"This is a real endorsement of EADS' U.S. market strategy," said Aboulafia. "And it sure beats waiting for the German and French defense ministries to spend any money."
EADS said it planned to nearly triple the size of the Mississippi American Eurocopter plant and add more than 200 jobs. It plans to start with partial assembly, then move to full assembly and later, the manufacture of major subsystems.
Construction of the first UH-145 was already underway, and current plans called for the aircraft to be delivered to the Army by November 2007, Crosby told reporters. "They want airplanes fast. We'll deliver them as fast as we can."
Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, welcomed the announcement and said it would further expand Mississippi's role as a "worldwide center of excellence in helicopter manufacturing and aerospace technology."