Airbus has urged the German government to ensure domestic firms get a big share of a near €4 billion (Dh16.65bn) contract earmarked for the country's next generation of heavy-lift military helicopters.
German defence officials have said they want a low-risk heavy-lift helicopter that already exists, which means the likely supplier will be one of the two biggest US weapons makers - Lockheed Martin or Boeing.
Airbus officials say they do not have a helicopter large enough for Germany's probable military's needs, but want to take a close look at the requirements when they are released by the defence ministry, a move that could occur next year.
Europe's biggest aerospace company and seven German firms including engine maker MTU Aero Engines said on Wednesday they had teamed up to push for a management and maintenance role in the project.
"This is about the future of the German helicopter industry," said Wolfgang Schoder, the chief executive of Airbus Helicopters Deutschland.
The defence ministry has proposed spending €3.84bn for the project through to 2029, although the programme must still be approved by parliament.
The German firms want the ministry to split the procurement of the helicopters from the work of certifying, managing and maintaining the new aircraft that will go on for decades.
This programme is "too big for Germany industry not to be involved", Airbus' Stefan Woelfle told military officials and industry executives. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Several European countries have expressed the need for heavy lift helicopters, and most have bought Boeing CH-47 Chinooks to fill this gap, with the result that the United Kingdom, for example, now operates 60 Chinooks after having transferred its AW-101 Merlin three-engine helicopters to the Royal Navy.
Only Denmark, Italy, Portugal and the UK operate the AW101, while the German army operates the CH-53G, so there is clearly a market in Europe for such helicopters.
Airbus and no doubt Leonardo are keen to enter this very profitable market niche, and to exclude US manufacturers from the next-generation procurement round.
It remains to be seen, however, if European governments will be able to arrive at a common specification, allowing industry to coalesce around such a project, without adding exquisite complexities and layers of bureaucracy that would stifle such an initiative before it was born.)