U.S. Army helo win boosts EADS clout

 - November 27, 2006, 12:09 PM

EADS North America chairman and CEO Ralph Crosby trumpeted Eurocopter’s newfound status as “a valued, trusted contributor to the U.S. industrial base,” following its win of a contract to supply the U.S. Army with 322 UH-145 light helicopters. “The U.S. defense market is where we have to be,” said Crosby. And who could argue? The deal will bring $2 billion to the coffers of a company that doesn’t count high profit margins among its strong points.

Crosby and Eurocopter CEO Fabrice Bregier both credited the win to EADS’s decision three years ago to partner with U.S. companies such as the UH-145’s logistics support contractor Sikorsky. Others include WestWind Technologies for systems integration and engineering support and CAE for procedures trainers.

EADS North America Defense will manage the UH-145 program and oversee a network of U.S. subcontractors that includes Nordam Group, Keith Products, Thales USA, Turbomeca USA, Wulfsberg Electronics, Honeywell, Goodrich, Aerolite, Armor Holdings and L-3 Communications.

Industrial activity will center around American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Mississippi facility, due for a 200,000-square-foot expansion specifically to accommodate the UH-145. Production of the UH-145–a customized version of Eurocopter’s EC 145 multimission helicopter, now built in Germany–will move to Columbus in a series of steps that begins with partial assembly, followed by full assembly and the subsequent U.S. manufacture of major subsystems.