Australian Aerospace delivers first locally - assembled MRH-90 helicopter to defence

(PresseBox) (Donauwörth, ) Australia's Project AIR 9000 achieved another significant milestone today when the Australian Defence Force (ADF) formally accepted from leading regional defence contractor, Eurocopter subsidiary Australian Aerospace Limited, the first locally-assembled MRH-90 Multi-Role Helicopter. .

The MRH-90 is the Australian variant of the NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH), the other version being the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) developed by NH Industries. A total of 46 MRH-90s are being acquired under Project AIR 9000 Phases 2, 4 and 6.

The first four aircraft fully-assembled in Eurocopter's facilities in Europe have been delivered to the ADF over the past year, paving the way for today's acceptance of the first locally-assembled MRH-90, aircraft #005. The remaining 42 MRH-90s are being assembled by Australian Aerospace in Brisbane and will progressively be delivered until the end of 2014.

The MRH-90 fleet will ultimately replace Australian Navy Sea King and Army Black Hawk helicopter fleets. The Commonwealth of Australia selected the MRH-90 not only to modernize but also to rationalize its military helicopter fleets with the aim of reducing the cost to Defence and generating leading-edge combat capabilities.

The formal acceptance ceremony in Brisbane was witnessed by distinguished Australian and overseas guests, comprising of representatives from the industry (NHI*, Eurocopter, EADS, local aviation/aerospace companies), the Australian Defence Force, the diplomatic corps, the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) and other NH90 customers.

Speaking during the ceremony, Mr. Dominique Maudet, Eurocopter's Executive Vice-President Governmental Helicopters, declared: "This acceptance of the first Australian-made MRH90 to the Australian authorities is indeed an important accomplishment. It shows once again the successful cooperation between NHI, Eurocopter, Australian Aerospace and the Commonwealth. The MRH-90 program, through a comprehensive Australian Industry Capability program, will generate 400 highly skilled new jobs in Australia and inject A$1.34 billion into the national economy. A 10-year though-life support program will also be carried out in Australia".

Australian Aerospace Chief Executive Dr. Jens Goennemann added: "The acceptance on schedule of the first Australian-assembled MRH-90 marks another major milestone for rotary-wing manufacturing technology in the Australia-Pacific region. By the end of this week Australian Aerospace will also have delivered 15 of the new Tiger ARH Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to the Australian Army, the majority of which are also being assembled in Brisbane, and acceptance of the first locally-assembled MRH-90 is evidence that this program is also gaining momentum."

Said Major-General Tony Fraser, Head of Helicopter Systems Division, Defence Materiel Organisation: "The acceptance of the first MRH90 to be assembled in Australia is the culmination of years of work by the Australian Aerospace, Eurocopter and Defence teams. Adding to the four Europe-manufactured aircraft already accepted, it will increase the project flying rate, critical to developing the Navy and Army operational capabilities of MRH90 for our sailors, soldiers and airmen".

The MRH-90, the most advanced tactical troop transport helicopter of the 21st century, is a fly-by-wire, all-composite construction, medium-lift helicopter with the highest crash-worthiness-standards, which was chosen ahead of its U.S. rival, the UH-60M Black Hawk. With a larger cabin than Australia's current troop lift helicopters, a rear ramp, weather radar and forward looking infra red, the MRH-90 can transport greater loads and carry more troops in adverse conditions. This multi-role helicopter in the ten-tonne class is capable of carrying two pilots, two loadmasters and 18 combat troops up to 900km at speeds of up to 300km/h.

To date, 507 NH90 helicopters have been ordered by the armed forces of 14 nations.

*NHI is the NH90 program joint venture established between Eurocopter, Agusta Westland and Stork Fokker.

About Australian Aerospace
Australian Aerospace Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eurocopter which is, in turn, a part of the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Group (EADS). Created in 2003 through the merger of Eurocopter International Pacific Limited and Australian Aerospace Pty Ltd, the company has evolved into a major defence supplier to the Australian Government and a leader in the Asia-Pacific civil helicopter market. With financial strength and access to the expertise of Eurocopter and the EADS Group, the company is well placed to offer outstanding solutions to military and civil customer requirements. Some 860 staff at its facilities in Sydney, Richmond, Brisbane, Redcliffe, Oakey, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland are engaged in testing, supplying, maintaining, modifying and enhancing civil and military helicopters for the Australian and export markets, and support some 350 helicopters in the region. In addition to its helicopter businesses, Australian Aerospace Limited has a long history of support for the RAAF AP3C Orion reconnaissance and Caribou transport fleets and will be involved in supporting the RAAF's new Airbus A330-based Multi-Role Tanker-Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

Airbus Helicopters

Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 14,000 people. In 2007, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world's No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover exceeding 4 billion Euros, orders for 802 new helicopters, and a 53 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group's products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 17 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,000 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.

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