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Australian Aero to Expand for NH90 (Aug. 31)

SYDNEY --- Australian Aerospace today announced plans for significant investment and the creation of new skilled jobs in Australia, following the Federal Government’s decision to buy 12 MRH90 helicopters for the Army.

The purchase of these new helicopters will include a support contract lasting up to 20 years and is expected to generate more than $300 million investment in Australian industry.

The MRH90s will be used as additional troop lift helicopters and were chosen ahead of the Black Hawk.

The MRH90s will form a new squadron based in Townsville. The first helicopter will be delivered in 2007, with all 12 aircraft expected to be delivered by 2008.

Australian Aerospace already is assembling 18 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter for the Australian Army in Brisbane. That project is on time and on budget.

The twin-engine, medium-lift MRH90 is the Australian version of Eurocopter’s NH90 and is the most advanced helicopter in its class. It has a corrosion-free composite air frame and a fully electronic flight control system, resulting in much lower operating and maintenance costs than its competitors.

Australian Aerospace Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Saporito, has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement.

“We are delighted the Federal Government has decided to buy the MRH90,” he said. “The decision reflects the fact that the MRH90 is the world’s most advanced helicopter in its class.”

Mr Saporito said Australian Aerospace and its local partners including ADI, KBR, Raytheon Australia and Thales Training Simulators will provide major components, mission systems, electronics, flight training facilities, training and maintenance for the helicopters.

“The MRH90 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,” he said.

“The MRH90 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.”

Eurocopter President Fabrice Brégier said the decision will bring significant cost savings for the Australian Defence Force. “The Tiger and MRH90 helicopters complement each other,” he said. “They share the same technology and therefore provide continuity and cost savings. This contract will enhance the position of Australian Aerospace and Eurocopter as an autonomous helicopter manufacturer in Australia.”

Australia is the 11th nation committed to buying the MRH90 or its European equivalent, the NH90. Currently, there are 345 firm orders and 86 options.

Australian Aerospace is the only helicopter manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand. It is a subsidiary of the Eurocopter group and a member of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). Australian Aerospace employs about 300 people and has revenue of A$200 million.

The company assembles, supplies and maintains military and civil aircraft for the Australian and export markets.

Australian Aerospace is assembling and testing 18 Tiger helicopters for the Australian Army and assembles the EC120B civilian helicopter at its centre of excellence in Brisbane. Australian Aerospace also has a maintenance contract with the Royal Australian Air Force for its fleet of Caribou and P-3C Orion transport and reconnaissance planes.

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Australian Aerospace Welcomes Army Helicopter Deal