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German government signs 488 million PFI programme for NH90 helicopter training

20 January 2005

The German government has approved a major private finance initiative (PFI) programme for the German Armed Forces by awarding a contract to Helicopter Flight Training Services GmbH (HFTS) to provide NH90 helicopter training in industry-owned training centres.

HFTS, based in Hallbergmoos, Germany, was founded by an industrial consortium consisting of CAE, Eurocopter, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics and Thales, each owning a 25 percent share. The industry consortium will design, build, and operate three NH90 training centres.

The contract is valued at a total of €488 million. An initial phase, which will begin this month, covers the design, development and manufacturing of four NH90 full-mission simulators and three training centres located in Bückeburg, Fassberg and Holzdorf. This will be followed by a 14.5-year operational phase beginning in mid-2008 once the first training centre is "ready for training" and extending through 2022. During the operational phase, HFTS will deliver turnkey training services to NH90 aircrews and the German government will pay an hourly rate.

This PFI programme for simulator-based pilot training will ensure the German Armed Forces the quickest and most cost-effective availability of training for the NH90 helicopter, which the German Army begins receiving in 2005. The NH90 is the largest helicopter programme ever launched in Europe. Programme partners are France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. In addition, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greece, Oman and Australia have chosen the NH90. The training centres developed for Germany will be the first for the NH90 and will give HFTS the ability to market training services to the other nations procuring the NH90 helicopter.

Through the PFI programme, the German Armed Forces will save operating and finance costs by eliminating the need for procurement and ongoing maintenance of an expensive infrastructure.

The German Ministry of Defence will pay for a turnkey training service, since the responsibility for delivering the service and all the necessary equipment supporting the service lies with HFTS. Simulator-based training has been proven efficient by the German Armed Forces for basic and recurrent training. Germany will be able to reduce the number of flight hours on the actual NH90 helicopter, thus providing significant savings while reducing wear and tear as well as better protecting the environment.

Dr. Arnd Helmetag, managing director of HFTS GmbH, stated: "The decision by the German government to proceed with privately financed training for the NH90 is consistent with the trend for governments to consider this approach for military training requirements. The services provided by HFTS also fit perfectly to the requirements of other NH90 customers and will serve as a launch project for further NH90 training programmes worldwide. First discussions with potential customers have already started."

About the industry consortium:

HFTS GmbH is headquartered at :
Ludwigstrasse 49 D-85399 Hallbergmoos, Germany;
Telephone: +49 811 999 62 02,

CAE is a leading provider of simulation and modelling technologies and integrated training services for commercial and business aviation, and defence customers worldwide. The company has annual revenues of approximately C$1 billion, with operations and training facilities in 17 countries on five continents.

Eurocopter is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EADS and world market leader in the helicopter industry with a market share of 45% and a turnover of € 2.6 billion in 2003. More than 9,100 Eurocopter helicopters are in service with approx. 2,300 customers in 134 countries.

With products ranging from single-engined light helicopters up to transport helicopters in the 11-tonne class, the company produces the broadest product line of civil and military helicopters worldwide.

A subsidiary of Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall DeTec AG, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics GmbH is among the world's foremost suppliers of defence electronics technology. In the market for simulation systems, the Company supplies a complete line-up for the army, navy, and airforce, as well as for nonmilitary requirements worldwide.

About Thales

Thales is a leading international electronics and systems group, serving defence, aerospace, security and services markets worldwide. The Group employs 61,000 people throughout the world and generated revenues of 10.3 billion euros in 2004.

Services within Thales

With 1.4 billion euros (including 1.1 outside Thales) revenues and 10,000 employees worldwide, the Services division provides a global offer including consulting, integration solutions and outsourcing for private sector (transport, industry, energy and finance) and the public sector (civil administration and defence).

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