Boeing and Thales choose Eurocopter

Feb. 2, 2012 at 6:40 AM
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BRISBANE, Australia, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Boeing Defense Australia and Thales Australia have opted for the Eurocopter EC135 around which to build an aircrew training system for a major Australian military tender.

The companies are working together to bid for the military's Project AIR 9000 Phase 7 -- Helicopter Aircrew Training System contract.

"Boeing and Thales's individual expertise and shared strengths, as well as a strong working relationship spanning more than 15 years, have enabled the design of a truly integrated, cost-effective, low-risk aircrew training solution for the Australian Defense Force," said Kim Gillis, managing director of Boeing Defense Australia.

More than 1,000 EC15 helicopter platforms are in used in aircrew training systems worldwide, including in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Japan. The system is used in Australia with the Victoria and New South Wales state police forces, a statement from Boeing said.

"The EC135 is an ideal training helicopter for defense forces operating new-generation multi-role or combat helicopters, with great maneuverability, high visibility and the most advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions safely," Olivier Lambert, Eurocopter senior vice president of sales and customer relations, said.

Australia's Department of Defense released the HATS Request for Tender Jan. 16.

An RFT industry briefing and precinct inspection will be Feb. 7 at the Naval Air Station Nowra, an airfield operated by the navy in New South Wales.

Closing date for the RFT is April 19, a statement by Aus Tender, the government's on-line tender system, said.

In March, Boeing and Thales decided to cooperate on the project, although didn't name a training system platform, a statement by Thales Group and Boeing said at the time.

Boeing and Thales have been partners in defense flight training and simulation for more than 15 years," said John Duddy, who at the time was Boeing Defense Australia's vice president and managing director.

The Boeing and Thales Australian partnership began on the F-111 program in the mid-1990s. Thales operated the F-111 simulator and training programs and Rockwell, a Boeing company, held the F-111 avionics upgrade contract.

Boeing also subcontracted Thales to provide simulator support for the Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control Wedgetail Operational Flight Trainer and for in-country Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircrew training simulators.

"We will offer an integrated approach that will result in cost-effective solutions for helicopter aircrew training, improving Australian Defense Force capabilities over the years ahead," Thales Australia Chief Executive Officer Chris Jenkins said.

Boeing also trains army helicopter pilots on Sikorsky S-70A-9 Black Hawks and Bell 206-B1 Kiowa helicopters at Oakey Army Aviation Center in southeast Queensland state and on Boeing CH-47D Chinooks at 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville, northern Queensland.

Thales Australia had revenues of around $900 million in 2010 and employs around 3,300 people at five sites in Australia.

Boeing Defense Australia operates from 15 sites in Australia, the Boeing statement said. It's is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Co. and a business unit of Boeing Defense, Space and Security that has worldwide revenue of $32 billion.

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