Eurocopter’s subsidiary, Australian Aerospace, and the Australian Defence Material Organisation (DMO) today signed the contract to provide 34 additional MRH-90 medium-lift helicopters to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the associated support for a period of ten years. The signing ceremony, which took place in Canberra, follows the announcement last week by Prime Minister John Howard and Defence Minister Brendan Nelson that the ADF was ordering the extra MRH-90s, the most advanced helicopter of its size in the world.
Australia now has ordered 46 MRH-90s as part of the modernization and rationalization of its helicopter fleet, which will develop a hardened and networked defence force. This decision comes indeed less than two years after the Federal Government ordered the first 12 MRH-90s as additional troop lift helicopters. Already in December 2001, Eurocopter was selected to provide 22 Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARH) to the Australian Army.
Eurocopter warmly welcomes this decision, which confirms the leadership of its products in the military sector and the trustworthy relationship it has built with the Australian government.
The MRH-90s, the world’s most advanced medium-lift helicopter, was chosen ahead of the Black Hawk. It will now be stepped up at Australian Aerospace’s Brisbane plant. Through-life support services also will take place in Australia.
Expanding local production and support for the MRH-90s will make Australia one of the cornerstones of the global supply chain of the Eurocopter network, which includes Australian Aerospace.
Together, the two MRH-90 contracts will generate 400 highly skilled jobs in Australia and will inject A$ 1.1 billion into the Australian economy.
Eurocopter CEO, Fabrice Bregier, said: "this additional order confirms not only the superiority of the NH-90 in its class but also the strong links developed between Eurocopter and its Australian partners. It will be a major step ahead for the Australian industry and is fully in line with the worldwide expansion strategy of Eurocopter, which consists in developing long term industrial partnerships with major customer countries."
The Australian version of the NH-90, called MRH-90, is a truly multi-role helicopter which carries more troops and more equipment, further and faster than other helicopters of the same weight. It can be configured in more ways and is fully interoperable with NATO and Coalition forces. The MRH-90 is ideal to operate from land and sea. Its composite construction means there is no corrosion. It is easy and quick to maintain and spends a greater percentage of its operational life in the air than other helicopters in this class.
The NH90 is the biggest helicopter programme ever launched in Europe, with firm orders now at 391 units and options for a further 187. Customer countries which have placed firm orders are France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Oman and Australia. The latest countries to have officially selected the NH90 are New Zealand, Spain and Belgium. Due to its inherent multi-role capability, the NH90 is able to fulfil a large variety of missions and has been selected for Army, Air Force, Navy and SAR services by the respective customer nations.In Australia, Eurocopter, through Australian Aerospace and its Regional Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, assembles, tests, supplies, maintains, modifies and enhances civil and military aircraft for the Australian and export markets. Currently, it is assembling and delivering 18 of the 22 Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to the Australian Army, to be followed by 42 of the 46 MRH-90s for the troop and utility lift role. At the same time, Australian Aerospace assembles and delivers the EC120 Colibri light civil helicopter for customers throughout the Asia Pacific region, as well as supporting the more than 350 Eurocopter helicopters currently active in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Australian Aerospace recently announced plans to invest a further A million in a state-of-the-art composite fibre manufacturing plant in Queensland
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