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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: Bell 412EPs to Mexico

PUBLIC SERVICE | POLICE

The U.S. Army awarded Bell Helicopter Textron a $51.5 million fixed-price contract on June 1 for five Bell 412EPs. The Army is providing the helicopters to Mexico’s air force under the Mérida Initiative security cooperation agreement. Mexico is to use the surveillance aircraft to help interdict drug traffickers and other criminals, and to assist civilians during natural disasters.

The sale is part of a $93 million program for Mexico announced in March by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency that includes the five helicopters, air and ground crew training, support equipment and related services. Congress approved $400 million in 2008 for aid to Mexico under the Mérida Initiative, which offers law enforcement aid to that country, Central American nations, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The 412EP (EP stands for Enhanced Performance) is a twin-engine utility helicopter with a four-bladed composite rotor and dual digital automatic flight control. About 500 412EPs in a variety of versions are in service with a long list of nations, including Mexico. U.S. law enforcement agencies also fly 412EPs, and commercial versions are used for medical evacuation, offshore oil rig support and executive transport. Bell builds the 412 at its factory in Mirabel, Canada, near Montreal.

Bell is to deliver the 412EPs for Mexico in December, according to Dan O’Boyle, spokesman for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., which is handling the sale. The Mexican government has already made inquiries about purchasing more, O’Boyle added. — By Richard Whittle

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