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Monday, September 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Expands AS350 Fleet

PUBLIC SERVICE

The U.S. Homeland Security Dept is calling for more Eurocopter AS350s for its Customs and Border Protection service.

The vendor, American Eurocopter, expects the indefinite quantity/indefinite delivery contract to cover up to 50 more AS350B3s during its base year and four one-year options. The contract has a value of up to $150 million. Customs and Border Protection today operates 48 AS350s and 15 EC120s, and has five more EC120s on order. The initial order of 17 AS350B3s calls for delivery of those aircraft starting in 2009. The aircraft are to be produced at American Eurocopter’s Columbus, Miss. facility.

That facility also is the production center for the U.S. Army’s UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter.

American Eurocopter is a principal subcontractor to EADS North America on the LUH program, which calls for delivery of 322 aircraft to U.S. Army and National Guard units. The Columbus facility is a new, state-of-the-art, 320,000-sq-ft plant at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport (see page 46).

Total staffing at the expanded production facility in Mississippi will surpass 200 later this year as UH-72A and other production increases to meet delivery requirements.

The AS350 is in service with 75 agencies across the U.S., including major federal operators such as the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the U.S. Justice Dept and state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency medical response units. American Eurocopter also supplies AS365 Dauphins to the U.S. Coast Guard.

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