Kazakhstan could acquire up to 45 Eurocopter EC145 medium-twin helicopters for military applications, under a new memorandum of understanding signed with the European company, its parent EADS and the nation's defence ministry.

Eurocopter says the nation should take delivery of the new aircraft within a six-year period under the proposed deal, which was signed by Kazakh president Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev during his visit to France in late October.

A related agreement calls for the establishment of a new joint venture with local company Kazakhstan Engineering, which will complete the newly designated KH145s in Astana. It should deliver the first batch of six aircraft in late 2011, Eurocopter says, with the co-production pact expected to become operational next month. "The agreement also includes the development of local maintenance and training activities," the company adds.

Eurocopter chief executive Lutz Bertling says the arrangement will create "several hundreds of highly qualified jobs" and also "foster helicopter usage in Kazakhstan". He also believes the new joint venture will be able to compete for additional business in Belarus, Russia and central Asia, with other applications including parapublic operations and supporting the oil and gas sector.

Sales of the EC145 have now topped 400 aircraft, Eurocopter says. This includes the UH-72A Lakota variant being delivered to the US Army by American Eurocopter under the service's light utility helicopter programme. The company has so far handed over its 114 of the aircraft, says Flightglobal's HeliCAS database.

 UH-72A - American Eurocopter
© American Eurocopter

Kazakhstan Engineering also recently signed a memorandum of co-operation with France's Sagem on a proposed joint venture to produce, sell and market tactical unmanned air vehicles.

Source: Flight International