Brazil's EC725 introduction gathers pace

Rio de Janeiro
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Brazil's armed forces are set to receive a further three Eurocopter EC725s in 2012, as assembly rates begin to increase at Helibras, the airframer's Brazilian subsidiary.

So far four of the 50 rotorcraft ordered have been delivered - one each to the air force, army and navy, with the other for use as a VIP transport. Three additional helicopters will be handed over this year, with each service again to receive a single unit.

Deliveries will increase to eight in 2013 and 13 the following year. Helibras opened a new assembly line for the type in Itajubá on 2 October.

Meanwhile, eight of the 16 maritime aircraft on order will have MBDA's AM39 Exocet anti-ship missile integrated. They will also have a degree of local content through cooperation with Brazilian company Avibras, which is developing a revised propulsion system for the weapon.

brazilian eurocopter ec725 dominic perry/flightglobal
brazilian eurocopter ec725 dominic perry/flightglobal

Dominic Perry/Flightglobal  

Patrick de la Revelière, vice-president sales directorate at MBDA, says only after the integration phase is complete will the company receive a final contract for the missiles. "They will not place an order until it is fully integrated," he says, while declining to speculate on the size of any future deal.

Work on the integration has already commenced, with MBDA targeting 2013 for completion.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian army's first upgraded Eurocopter AS565 Pantera Mk2 will be handed over by Helibras in December. A second aircraft will follow in March 2013, and if the deliveries meet the service's requirements, a further 22-unit upgrade deal could follow.

The enhanced model features an improved gearbox and more powerful engines, a four-axis autopilot and additional self-protection equipment. A similar enhancement programme for the country's fleet of AS550 Fennecs will get under way in November.