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Eurocopter sets sights on S. America sales

Jan. 29, 2013 at 8:03 PM   |   Comments

MEXICO CITY, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Eurocopter and regional subsidiaries have set sights on major business expansion in South America where Brazilian planemaker Embraer is rapidly branching from executive jets and light attack fighters into other civilian and military aircraft.

Eurocopter de Mexico S.A. in 2012 delivered Eurocopter's last AS350 B2 helicopter to the Quito Aerial Police Service. The Eurocopter Mexican subsidiary's efforts in the Western Hemisphere are supplemented by operations in Canada for North America and Chile for Central and South America.

The AS350 B2 is widely used multiple civilian and military roles and in Ecuador the helicopter is deployed for law enforcement and security tasks by the aerial police service in the capital, Quito, which is part of the Ecuadorian National Police Force.

Contracts for the supply of the helicopters were signed in 2009 and the latest delivery gives the Quito police service access to a second helicopter for a widening campaign against organized crime and drug trafficking. The AS350 B2 is deployed for crowd control.

The single-engine Ecureuil -- Squirrel -- AS350 B2 is a major contender for prime performance position in South American armed and security forces because of its versatile multirole design.

Over the years the AS350 has won support from police and security services because of that multirole capability.

"Due to its rapid response and wide field of view, the helicopter is the perfect ally for a wide range of law enforcement missions, as well as SAR and MEDEVAC operations," the company said, citing search and rescue and medical evacuations as the other tasks assigned forces using the helicopter.

With the delivery of the latest AS350 B2 Eurocopter in the region the total number of the helicopters used in Latin America stands at 119 -- more than one-fifth of 558 AS350s used worldwide.

In October 2012 Ecuador took delivery of the first two AS550 C3 Fennec helicopters under a 2010 contract signed by the Ecuadorian ministry of defense for seven of the helicopters and two AS350 B2s. The contract contemplates delivery of two Fennecs every year until 2015.

Ecuador has announced plans for an ambitious military modernization program.

"The delivery of these two new helicopters represents a further step forward under the Ecuadorian army's ambitious modernization program," Defense Minister Miguel Carvajal said.

"Our army aviation will have a new generation of helicopters with higher performance levels and lower maintenance costs," he said.

Ecuador has also announced plans to replace its ageing Gazelle and Lama helicopters, some of which have been in service for several decades.

Eurocopter officials cited more than 40 years of relationship between the company in its present and previous forms and Ecuador's military procurement agencies. Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services.

The Ecuadorian armed forces were among the first militaries in Latin America to integrate Eurocopter aircraft into its fleet and the Ecuadorians now have more than 20 Eurocopter helicopters.

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