Venezuela orders U.S.-made helicopters

Venezuela's Ministry of Defense has contracted Enstrom Helicopters of Michigan to supply 16 training aircraft for its air force and navy, the first buy of helicopters from a U.S. original equipment manufacturer in 10 years.

By Richard Tomkins
An Enstrom 420B. (Photo by FlugKerl2)
An Enstrom 420B. (Photo by FlugKerl2)

MENOMINEE , Mich., May 8 (UPI) -- Venezuela's Ministry of Defense has ordered 420B training helicopters from Michigan-headquartered Enstrom Helicopter Corporation.

The contract is for 16 helicopters for use by the country's air force and navy and will be delivered within the next 18 months.


Also included in the deal are spare parts and tools, pilot and mechanic training and in-country technical assistance during the life of the contract.

No details as to the financial value of the award, however, were disclosed.

"We are very excited about this opportunity to provide training helicopters for Venezuela," said Tracy Biegler, Enstrom chief executive officer. "This is their first helicopter purchase from a U.S. Original Equipment Manufacturer in more than 10 years. We are pleased that the 480B was selected for this training mission."

Diplomatic and economic relations between Venezuela and the United States have been frayed over the policies of late-President Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Enstrom helicopters have been operated by the Venezuelan National Guard since the 1970s. Guillermo Basalo Sucre, owner of Helinautica, the Venezuelan company that negotiated the contract with the Venezuelan government, said Enstrom's product support was a key factor in the ministry decision.


The Enstrom 480B is a small light helicopter with a range of 435 miles and a service ceiling of 13,000 feet.

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