Eurocopter has delivered the first two AS550 C3 Fennec helicopters to the Ecuadorian Ministry of Defense under a contract signed in 2010 for seven of these helicopters and two AS350 B2s, which were delivered in December 2011. The contract contemplates delivery of two Fennecs per year until 2015.
The delivery ceremony held on 25 September at Eurocopter’s Marignane facility in southern France was attended by the Ecuadorian Defense Minister Miguel Carvajal, the Chief of the Armed Forces Joint Command General Leonardo Barreiro, Ejército Commander Marco Vera and Carlos A. Jativa, Ecuadorian Ambassador to France, among other officials.
“The delivery of these two new helicopters represents a further step forward under the Ecuadorian Army’s ambitious modernization program,” declared the Ecuadorian Defense Minister, Miguel Carvajal. “Our Army aviation will have a new generation of helicopters with higher performance levels and lower maintenance costs.”
The recent visit by the Ecuadorian delegation also provided an opportunity to continue discussions on an order for a second batch of aircraft, which would come in addition to the nine helicopters ordered in 2010. These orders are part of the MOD’s plans to progressively replace their Gazelle and Lama fleet, some of which have been in service for several decades.
“Eurocopter is grateful to the Ecuadorian Armed Forces for trusting in our range of products for more than 40 years now,” declared Rodolphe Henry, Eurocopter’s Vice President of Sales for Latin America. “The new helicopters are perfectly suited to the operational requirements of the Ecuadorian Army aviation and will undoubtedly help to ensure the success of the different missions to which they are assigned.”
The Ecuadorian Armed Forces were one of the first armies in Latin America to integrate Eurocopter aircraft into their fleet, and they now have more than 20 Eurocopter helicopters, including two Ecureuil AS350 Bs, two Ecureuil AS350 B2s, three SA315 B Lamas, two SA316 B Alouettes, seven SA342 Gazelles and five AS332 Super Pumas. In the 80’s, the Ecuadorian Armed Forces were also one of the first Latin-American armies to integrate the French Army Light Aviation concept, in cooperation with the French Army. The fleet’s long operational life bears testimony to the reliability and durability of the Eurocopter range.
The new Fennecs will perform a wide range of missions including rescue, reconnaissance, drug enforcement and border patrol from their base at Porto Viejo. Modern, versatile and highly maneuverable, the AS550 C3 Fennec is perfectly adapted to the operational requirements in Ecuador, a country that combines high altitudes and extreme temperatures.
Eurocopter's extensive range of helicopters for naval and maritime missions will take pride of place at Euronaval 2012, the 23rd Naval, Defense and Maritime Exhibition and Conference, with the company displaying models of the NH90 NFH, the AS365 N3+ and the AS565 MB/Panther (Hall 2A - Stand G70).
Eurocopter’s participation in this biennial event, to be held October 22-26 at Le Bourget Exhibition Centre near Paris, will underscore the decades of experience the company has acquired in naval and maritime helicopters. With a diversified product line tailored to numerous operational requirements, Eurocopter helicopters are counted on for such missions as antisubmarine and anti-surface warfare, anti-piracy and anti-smuggling missions as well as coastal or deep-sea maritime search and rescue operations.
Built by NHIndustries, a consortium formed by Eurocopter, AgustaWestland and Fokker, the NH90 is just one of the models on show. To date 122 NH90s have been delivered to customers, 18 of them the NFH naval version. The fleet has now clocked up a total of 30,000 flight hours, mainly in SAR missions performed in especially demanding environments and also in the Afghan theater of operations. Compatible with 80 types of NATO frigates, the naval version of the NH90 has fully demonstrated its capabilities in a wide range of missions, from reconnaissance, ship identification and tracking to rescue and transportation of passengers and troops.
“With more than 30,000 flight hours already behind it, the land and naval versions of the NH90 have shown their highly extensive operational capabilities in the most taxing conditions,” said Dominique Maudet, Eurocopter Group Executive Officer for France. “We pay very close attention to the feedback we receive from the armed forces, which have been very positive,” he added. “Italian forces have been particularly impressed by the NH90 TTH they have deployed in Afghanistan, while the NFH, which is set to receive its final qualification in the very near future, has already carried out a number of sea rescue missions, notably in France, in extreme flight conditions - saving many lives in the process.”
Eurocopter will also be displaying models of its other naval and maritime helicopters, among them the AS565 MB Panther and the AS365 N3 Dauphin. A militarized version of Eurocopter’s twin-engine Dauphin helicopter, the Panther is a multi-purpose, medium-weight aircraft designed for applications such as anti-submarine and anti-surface missions, SAR, surveillance and monitoring patrols in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), maritime counter-terrorism, casualty and medical evacuation, and troop and cargo transport. The N3+ version of the AS365 was recently fitted with a four-axis autopilot system; when used in SAR modes, this gives it the same mission capability as the civil version of the Panther.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace and defense-related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approximately 20,000 people. In 2011, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s number one helicopter manufacturer with a turnover of 5.4 billion Euros, orders for 457 new helicopters and a 43 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors.
Overall, the Group’s helicopters account for 33 percent of the worldwide civil and parapublic fleet. Eurocopter’s strong international presence is ensured by its subsidiaries and participations in 21 countries. Eurocopter’s worldwide network of service centers, training facilities, distributors and certified agents supports some 2,900 customers. There are currently more than 11,300 Eurocopter helicopters in service in 149 countries. Eurocopter offers the most comprehensive civil and military helicopter range in the world and is fully committed to safety as the most important aspect of its business.