July 2, 2006 EADS has landed the hotly contested contract to supply the U.S. Army’s next-generation Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) in a deal worth up to US$ 3 billion. The French-German company teamed with Sikorsky Aircraft to win the contest with its Eurocopter UH-145, a military version of the EC145. The UH145 flies at 131 kts, has a range of 370 nm, endurance of 3.4 hrs and can carry 2 pilots and 8 passengers. Its unique attributes include an antitorque rotor mounted on a high tailboom for safety and a set of aft-mounted clamshell cabin doors. UH145 production will move from Germany to the United States as part of the deal which is the first major win for EADS as a prime contractor for the US military.
The prize of the LUH contract has caused enormous effort by the four contractors vying for a larger slice of the rich U.S. defence market.
The other prime contestants were the US139, a variant of the twin-engine AB139 helicopter from AgustaWestland, the Bell 412 from Bell Helicopter and the NOTAR-equipped Explorer from MD Helicopters. The NOTAR (no tail rotor) system involves an antitorque system that reduces noise, increases safety and enables the helicopter to operate in spaces normally inaccessible to other aircraft.
Though the LUH award is the first major defence contract for EADS, it has more than two decades experience as a helicopter supplier to U.S. agencies the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
The UH145 exceeds the LUH contract requirements of a 217 nm range and 2.8 hours of operational flight time with its range of 370 nm and 3.4 hours endurance. It will be used by Army and Army National Guard units for a wide range of light utility missions, including medical evacuation, passenger and logistics transportation, as well as homeland security operations. The U.S. Army is planning to acquire over 350 LUH platforms to replace aging UH-1 and OH-58 aircraft.
EADS North America leads the contract winning UH-145 team of companies that includes four primary partners, among them its American Eurocopter business unit, which will handle the helicopter’s production, assembly and delivery and Sikorsky Aircraft as well as WestWind Technologies and CAE USA.
The EADS Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter and the joint venture MBDA, the leading international missile producer in the global market. EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium, is the prime contractor for the Ariane launcher, develops the A400M military transport aircraft and is the largest industrial partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo.