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Sunday, January 1, 2006

Rotorcraft Report: Elbit To Upgrade Bulgarian Helicopters

Elbit Systems Ltd. will upgrade 12 Mi-24 combat helicopters and six Mi-17 transport helicopters for the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense under a 57.3-million-euro ($67.2-million) contract. The upgrade is to take the Bulgarian helicopters up to NATO standards and expected to be completed within three years. Elbit said that it will be upgrading the helicopters in participation with Bulgarian aerospace and defense industries.

Elbit on Dec. 2 signed a 57.3 million euro (approximately $70 million) contract for a helicopter upgrade program with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense. The entry into force of this contract is subject to several standard matters that are anticipated to be completed shortly. This program was the subject of previous announcements by Elbit Systems on December 21, 2004 and March 10, 2005.

The program includes upgrading 12 MI-24 combat helicopters and 6 MI-17 transport helicopters, to comply with NATO standards. The program is expected to be performed over a three-year period. It will be executed with the participation of Bulgarian aerospace and defense industries.

Elbit Systems has extensive experience in the area of helicopter upgrades and has performed numerous major helicopter upgrades of both western and eastern origin platforms. The Company's advanced avionics are currently operational onboard thousands of helicopter platforms in the fleets of the Israeli Air Force, the United States Air Force and other defense and civilian helicopter operators worldwide. This includes recent contracts to upgrade helicopters of various Central European Air Forces, resulting in compliance with NATO standards.

Joseph Ackerman, President and CEO of Elbit Systems said: "We are pleased to have signed our first helicopter upgrade contract in Bulgaria. I believe that our proven expertise and experience in the area of helicopter upgrades, coupled with the cooperation of our customer and Bulgarian industries, will result in a successful program for the mutual benefit of the Bulgarian Air Force and Elbit Systems and will reinforce our strong relationship with the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense."

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