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WELCOME BOOST FOR FLAGGING DEFENCE HELICOPTER SALES

WELCOME BOOST FOR FLAGGING DEFENCE HELICOPTER SALES FORECAST BY EUROCOPTER

2 Jun 03. Eurocopter, the world’s largest helicopter maker, expects to generate the majority of its sales from the defense business by 2005, Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said.

Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of a Eurocopter Presentation in the UK, Bregier said he expects Eurocopter’s military operations to generate around 55% of sales in two years with the civilian business making up the rest. The defense business generated 42% of Eurocopter’s total 2002 sales of €2.512bn.

“We (Eurocopter) will probably achieve €3.5bn sales in three years’ time”, Bregier said in a presentation. Eurocopter is a unit of EADS.

Driving the military business will be the NH90 heavy twin-engined helicopter for which Eurocopter now has 305 firm orders from eight European countries, Bregier said. Negotiations are continuing with Greece to supply additional NH90 units, he added. The company also has 182 firm orders for Tiger military attack and support helicopters. Bregier said he expects Eurocopter to generate sales growth this year similar to the 12% year-on-year rise recorded in 2002. Eurocopter orders for some 301 military and civil helicopters during 2002 and now has an order book worth over €8bn.

During his presentation, Bregier said the company is aiming to win more business in the U.K., where defense authorities are looking to replace ageing helicopters.

Bregier said Eurocopter is currently reviewing its options for the U.S. military helicopter market together with EADS’ North America business unit. Many analysts believe that due to diplomatic splits over Iraq between the U.S. and France and Germany, Eurocopter may find it increasingly tough to win U.S. military business. EADS’ key owners are French and German.

Bregier said Eurocopter may be a little late in the competition to supply new helicopters to replace the current fleet used to transport the U.S. President and other high ranking officials.

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