Saudis Choose Russian Helicopters

 - November 20, 2007, 5:09 AM

A story in AIN’s opening edition at the Dubai Air Show [DEAL FOR RUSSIAN HELOS A BLOW TO FRANCE] suggested that Russian defense export agency Rosboronexport would announce a $2.2 billion deal with Saudi Arabia for 150 Mi-17 transport and Mi-35 attack helicopters at the show. Well, it did not. But there seems little doubt that the Saudis have switched preference from Eurocopter and NH Industries, which had offered Super Pumas and NH-90s via the French government. In fact, AIN learned later during the Dubai show of changes being made at Sofresa (the French export agency for Saudi Arabia), following the unexpected failure to close this huge order. Just before the show opened, French industry sources told AIN that the Saudis might still choose Eurocopters for specialized missions, such as SAR and training. But an announcement from Sikorsky that the Kingdom had ordered 40 of its helicopters [SIKORSKY LANDS $2 BILLION ORDER FOR 40 HELICOPTERS] might have dimmed that prospect, although the value of that Sikorsky order was somewhat less than the $2.2 billion previously reported.