Mexico Orders Eurocopter’s EC725 Helicopters
In March 2009, Mexico became the EC725 Cougar’s 2nd export customer, thanks to a Mexican Ministry of Defense order for 6 helicopters. Mexico followed Brazil, who became the EC725’s first export customer with a $1.1 billion order for 50 machines to equip its Army, Air Force, and Navy.
Mexico’s medium-lift helicopters be used for transport and civil security missions as well. Despite the understated terms, these are primarily military helicopters that will address a military problem. In 2010, the order was doubled…
Mexico and the EC725
Mexico is currently facing a significant “open source” insurgency composed primarily of narco-traffickers, with other elements thrown into the uncoordinated mix. The violence associated with “The Cartel War” has reportedly claimed around 28,000 lives over the last 4 years, and Mexico is busy beefing up its military capabilities on several fronts in order to cope. UAVs and aerostats, integrated urban surveillance systems, and quick-response helicopter transport all provide useful counterinsurgency capabilities – if they can be complemented by good on-the-ground intelligence and solid governance.
Mexico already has some experience with this helicopter type. The civilian EC225 version has a separate order base, and currently serves as a Mexican Presidential helicopter. Even so, DID Latin American correspondent Inigo Guevara reports that Eurocopter’s key to victory lay elsewhere:
“According to a Mexican air force source, the FAM (Mexican Air Force) operates 33 medium helicopters, comprising 6 S-70A-24 (UH-60L) Blackhawks, 8 Mi-8T and 19 Mi-8MTV-1 (Mi-17s). 10 of the Mi-17’s will reach the end of their service lives by 2012 [and 2 are already semi-retired]. The remaining Mi-17’s and Blackhawks will continue in service for another 10 years, at which point they will also be replaced. The FAM considered acquiring either more UH-60L’s or Mi-17’s but the [distinguishing industrial] offset offered by Eurocopter and the type of helicopter… made the EC725 the best in its class.
The EC725’s will be armed with a 12.7 mm gun pod and a 70mm rocket pod. The deal has been announced at 168 million euros (around 212 million USD) with the first deliveries expected from late 2011. They are expected to remain in service until 2037.”
Those force dynamics could make this order a bigger win for EADS Eurocopter over the long term. The firm was able to offer those key industrial offsets thanks to its EC725 delivery partner Eurocopter de Mexico SA (EMSA), which was set up in 1982 to cover the Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean markets, along with Columbia, Venezuela and Ecuador. About 350 Eurocopter machines currently fly in the region, and EMSA’s 200 employees offer aircraft assembly, maintenance and painting services, as well as coordinating professional training for helicopter pilots and technicians in the region.
Contracts & Key Events
Sept 20/10: EADS announces that the Mexican Ministry of Defense has signed an agreement with Eurocopter for the purchase of 6 more EC725s, for a total of 12 machines to be delivered to Mexico’s SEDENA (Secretaria de La Defensa Nacional) beginning in the second quarter of 2011. EADS.
March 10/09: Mexico orders 6 EADS Eurocopter EC725 medium-lift helicopters. The deal is announced at EUR 168 million (around $212 million), with the first deliveries expected from late 2011. See also Eurocopter | Shephard Group.
- Thanks to subscriber Inigo Guevara, author of Harpia Publishing’s Latin American Fighters, for his assistance.