The award of the U.S. Army’s LUH (light utility helicopter) contract to American Eurocopter will mean significant expansion at its assembly plant at Columbus, Miss. Production of the UH-145–a customized version of Eurocopter’s EC 145 (originally the BK 117), which is currently built in Germany–will be transferred to Columbus in a series of steps beginning with partial assembly, followed by full assembly and the subsequent U.S. manufacture of major subsystems.
The facility will employ an additional 250 people, bringing the total work force to more than 360.
The Army awarded the $43 million contract–the first for American Eurocopter from the U.S. military–to the OEM’s parent, EADS. It involves the manufacture of 322 airframes, all powered by Turbomeca’s Arriel 1E2, with deliveries beginning in FY07. Other entrants in the competition were the AW139, MD 902 Explorer and Bell 412EP.