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26 Aug 02. Franco-German helicopter builder Eurocopter SA confirmed on Monday that it is talking to Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA – News) and other U.S. aerospace companies regarding possible collaboration.

A Eurocopter spokesman said the discussions center around Europe’s requirements in the area of heavy military helicopters, but said the talks are still at an early stage and it is premature to be more precise. The spokesman was commenting on a U.K. Sunday Times report over the weekend that Eurocopter, a wholly owned subsidiary of European aerospace company European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co. NV , and Boeing are about to forge an alliance that would give Eurocopter a foothold in the U.S. military helicopter market.

The report said Eurocopter would help Boeing sell its Chinook heavy helicopter to European governments. In return, Boeing would market and possibly manufacture Eurocopter’s NH-90 helicopter.

Last month, U.S. aerospace company Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE:LMT – News) unveiled a 10- year agreement to market in the U.S. the UDS101 helicopter built by AgustaWestland

Comment: U.S. Procurement Supremo Pete Aldridge recognised the failure of helicopter competition and thus technology in the recent reorganisation,(See BATTLESPACE ALERT Vol.4 ISSUE 16, May 3rd 2002). The U.S. went down the V-22 Osprey route ignoring the next generation of rotary winged aircraft such as the EH-101 and the NH-90 being developed in Europe.

“The studies concluded that we don’t have as much competition in the helicopter industry as we would like, and that because of that, we are not innovating enough. Andit’s causing me to start thinking out how we can be a little
more competitive in the helicopter about base…. So we’re beginning to think about what we can do in this industry that is essentially defined as three, Bell, Boeing and Sikorsky, all interconnected together in some way, shape or form. And I don’t like that.”

The statement that EADS is negotiating sales of the Chinook in Europe may be impeded by the existing contract with AgustaWestland, which may limit the Eurocopter involvement.

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