Foreign firms expand in Latin America

April 11, 2013 at 1:45 PM
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RIO DE JANEIRO, April 11 (UPI) -- U.S. and European defense and aerospace companies are expanding their footprint in Latin America with partnerships and operations.

Just this week alone Boeing, which is bidding of the Brazilian Air Force's F-X2 fighter program, announced that its new technology research and development facility will be opening by year's end in the technology park of the city of Sao Jose dos Campos, the hub for the country's defense and aerospace technology efforts.

French electronics company Sagem announced its new Brazilian subsidiary. Optovac, has opened in Sao Paulo for production, marketing and servicing of company products in Brazil and the region.

Saab of Switzerland announced a partnership with a Brazilian company for the manufacture of camouflage products for Latin America's militaries, and U.S. unmanned aircraft maker Insitu partnered witth a Brazilian company to produce and market its products.

Sikorsky Aircraft and its subsidiaries are also busy plumbing the Latin American marketplace.

Sikorsky Aerospace Services, the aftermarket company of Sikorsky Aircraft, announced this week its simulation training center for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters has opened for business at an air base in neighboring Colombia, which has the world's fourth largest Black Hawk fleet.

The Helicopter Flight Simulator Training Center in Melgar, the first of its kind by Sikorsky in Latin America, will train not only Colombian aircrews but also military pilots from other South American countries.

"Operating the world's fourth-largest Black Hawk fleet, Colombia is a longtime strategic customer and valued partner," said David Adler, SAS president. "Based on their fleet requirements, SAS continues to expand in-country aftermarket services. In fact last year we doubled the maintenance support team and expanded depot capabilities for crash and battle damaged aircraft.

"The new training facility will further improve the operational readiness of the Colombian Armed Services. Additionally, it's a major milestone that exemplifies our overall commitment to Sikorsky customers in Latin America."

Sikorsky said the training center offers the region's only full motion, high fidelity, FAA Level D-Equivalent Black Hawk simulator and is equipped with motion and control loading technology.

The simulator has a detailed cockpit replication of all controls and aircraft systems and components are mounted on six degree-of-freedom motion platforms.

Sikorsky partnered with Corporación de la Industria Aeronáutica de Colombia, an aerospace support provider for the Colombian Ministry of Defense, for the project.

"The Black Hawk is an integral component for us to successfully defeat narco-terrorism," said Brig. Gen. del Aire Guillermo Leon Leon, the general manager of CIAC.

"Our ability to sustain in-country pilot training is paramount."

In a second initiative, Sikorsky Aircraft said it has signed a Letter of Interest with the Brazilian Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica to establish a Rotorcraft Innovation Team.

"The collaboration will accelerate the development of rotorcraft technologists in Brazil, whose military already flies both Black Hawk and Sea Hawk helicopters, and will increase student and faculty exposure to rotorcraft," it said.

Sikorsky will provide mentoring to assist classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels and support the school obtaining hardware and software to enable rotorcraft research.

"We welcome Sikorsky's participation to work with us in growing our education curriculum to include rotorcraft design," said ITA Rector Carlos Américo Pacheco. "We look forward to working with one of the world's top helicopter companies to educate our outstanding engineering students."

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