Helibras, Eurocopter's Brazilian subsidiary, on 21 November performed the maiden sortie of the first EC725 to be entirely produced in-country, around two months ahead of schedule.
Previous examples of the EC725, part of a tri-service order for 50 aircraft, have been assembled from kits shipped from Eurocopter's Marignane plant in France.
Destined for the Brazilian navy, the Caracal will be the 17th to be delivered, with handover provisionally set for the second half of 2014, says Helibras. So far, eight helicopters are operating with the three services.
It marks the third phase of indigenisation on the contract, which has seen Helibras invest some Rs410 million ($179 million) to expand its facility in Itajuba in order to localise production. The order, which contains substantial provision for technology transfer, has seen a number of European companies set up Brazilian facilities to supply equipment, such as engines and missiles, for the programme.
Deliveries of the helicopters are due to run until 2017, with the eventual target of 50% local content on each EC725. The Itajuba site will also produce the civil variant of the type, the EC225, for Brazil, where significant local content is required for contracts with state-owned oil company Petrobras.
The eventual goal for Helibras is to design and produce an entirely indigenous helicopter for the global market.