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Homeland Security

EADS North America receives key U.S. government helicopter order to support homeland security missions

* American Eurocopter contract reflects two decades of supply of rotary-wing aircraft for U.S. defense and security

Columbus, Mississippi, 26 February 2006

EADS North America today announced an order from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection to American Eurocopter for EC120 helicopters.

This acquisition is the first order for 10 Light Sign Cutter EC120s in a Department of Homeland Security contract that could involve as many as 55 helicopters, with a potential total value of up to $75 million.

“We have been supporting U.S. homeland security and defense missions for more than 18 years, and this order further reinforces EADS North America’s position as a helicopter supplier of choice for the protection of the United States,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman and CEO of EADS North America. “This success positively reflects our unique capability to support vital national security missions, including our offer of the UH-145 helicopter for the Army’s Light Utility Helicopter requirement.”

The Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection EC120s will be produced at the new Columbus, Mississippi facility of American Eurocopter, an EADS North America business unit. Columbus already supports key U.S. government helicopter programs – including the upgrading of HH-65 Dolphins for the Coast Guard, and it recently was designated as the production site for EADS North America’s UH-145 Light Utility Helicopter.

“American Eurocopter is committed to providing the best helicopters for America’s vital homeland defense missions, and we are very pleased to once again fulfill the operational requirements of the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection,” said Marc Paganini, American Eurocopter’s President and CEO. “This order further consolidates our role as a major provider of rotary-wing aircraft for para-public and homeland security customers.”

The Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection is to receive its first EC120 in June for deployment on America’s southwest border with Mexico. In order to meet this challenging schedule, three EC120s already are in production for the Department’s Customs and Border Protection. The follow-on aircraft will be delivered at the rate of one helicopter every 30 days.

“The EC120 order will reinforce the role of American Eurocopter’s Golden Triangle plant as a rotary-wing center of excellence for U.S. national and homeland security missions,” said Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran. “American Eurocopter has been a valuable addition to industry in Northeast Mississippi and has improved the quality of jobs that are available to the area’s residents. This latest contract represents another important step for high-technology development in Mississippi and for our continuing contribution to U.S. homeland defense.”

“This is great news for Mississippi, in particular for the Golden Triangle Region,” Senator Trent Lott said. “With this contract, EADS will become even more ingrained into our state’s economy and provide more steady, skilled and good paying jobs.”

“American Eurocopter made a long-term business commitment to Mississippi when it opened the Golden Triangle facility in 2004, and the company is living up to its promise with a steady growth of the workload and employment,” said Congressman Roger Wicker, who represents the First Congressional District of Mississippi.

The new EC120 Light Sign Cutter aircraft will be used by the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection primarily to monitor movements of illegal aliens and potential terrorist suspects along U.S. borders. Their Light Sign Cutter designation refers to the lightweight class of rotary-wing aircraft earmarked for this mission, and also is a recognition of the expert trackers known as sign cutters.

Considerations in the Department of Homeland Security’s selection of the EC120 as the best value solution included its excellent endurance and unmatched cabin visibility, along with the aircraft’s modern design and maintenance procedures. The EC120 – which is to replace the Customs and Border Protection fleet of Vietnam-era surplus helicopters – demonstrated its capabilities during earlier trial operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Light Sign Cutter EC120s will mark the addition of another American Eurocopter product to the fleet of company products currently in U.S. government service. This includes the Coast Guard’s inventory of HH-65 Dolphins, along with AS350 AStar helicopters already in use by Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The state-of-the-art American Eurocopter plant in Columbus was inaugurated in 2004 with a team of 44 employees – most whom were hired locally from Mississippi’s Golden Triangle region. Its staff has expanded to more than 120 today.

The facility currently builds A-Star AS350 helicopters at a rate of 30 aircraft per year, and it is re-engining and upgrading U.S. Coast Guard HH-65 helicopters – converting these maritime patrol and search & rescue aircraft to the improved performance HH-65C version. A significant expansion of the Columbus plant is expected if the UH-145 industry team – of which American Eurocopter is a primary member – is selected to supply Light Utility Helicopters for the U.S. Army.

About EADS North America

EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $6 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 100,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. With 10 operating companies located in 28 cities and 15 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

About American Eurocopter

American Eurocopter is the American subsidiary of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, and EADS North America, the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and Defense Company in the world. American Eurocopter markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer. The product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. American Eurocopter’s headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, TX, with a large new factory in Columbus, Mississippi.

Guy Hicks, VP Communications
EADS North America
Tel.: (703) 236-3300
mailto: guy.hicks@eads-na.com

Brenda Reuland, VP Communications
American Eurocopter
Tel.: (972) 641-3679
mailto: brenda.reuland@eurocopterusa.com

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