?xml:namespace>Brazil and France today jointly announced signing a deal with a newly-formed consortium of Eurocopter and Helibras to build 50 EC725 helicopters.
The official signing follows the European Union-Brazil summit in Rio de Janeiro and comes six months after the initial agreement to start building EC725s in Brazil.
Brazil’s armed forces are acquiring 16 EC725s for the navy, 16 for the army and 18 for the air force – the first joint military aircraft acquisition for Brasilia, according to a statement by the Ministry of Defence.
The first 50 aircraft will be delivered after 2010 to Brazil’s armed forces, but the consortium is likely to seek new orders from other commercial and government markets in Latin America.
The deal requires a $300 million expansion of Helibras’ plant in Itajuba, where the EC725s will be manufactured, assembled and maintained.
“This contract heralds a new era for Helibras, which will become and outstanding center of aeronautical excellence in South America,” said Eurocopter President Lutz Bertling.
The helicopter deal also marks an expansion of the industrial and military relationship between the two countries. France and Brazil also have signed a deal to develop a nuclear submarine.
France’s Dassault Aircraft also has proposed the Rafale fighter for Brazil’s F-X2 contract. Brazil has shortlisted the Rafale, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Saab Gripen.