LES MUREAUX, France — Two important milestones will occur in the coming weeks for ’s military airlifter program and tanker ambitions in the U.S.
The European aerospace giant has been waiting for a new A400M contract — revised last year to deal with several billion euros in extra costs — and a new schedule. That contract is near completion and awaiting a German parliamentary budget hearing on Jan. 19.
Also in the offing is an agreement on an export levy facility, says CFO Hans-Peter Ring. That is a funding mechanism set up through which countries provide money to the program and receive royalty payments.
Series production of the airlifter began Jan. 12, says CEO Louis Gallois. He also notes that despite overseas interest, export campaigns are not yet underway, with the focus on satisfying demand from core customers.
On the tanker, EADS andare waiting for the U.S. Air Force to ask for final pricing information. CEO Sean O’Keefe expects that data request soon, with a contract award now more likely in February.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently met with U.S. President Barack Obama and restated the request for a level playing field in the bid.
EADS N.A. also is preparing to fly a second Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) helicopter in the spring. It will augment the first — which flew in December 2010 to validate hot-and-high performance — and focus on demonstrating avionics and weapon systems. The company is bracing for a U.S. Army flyoff between the OH-58 and AAS contenders to help define an acquisition program.
Another effort on the horizon is a U.S. Air Force helicopter program. EADS has not yet settled on which helo it would offer in the Common Vertical Lift Support Program, although O’Keefe says theEC725 is the most likely offering.
Meanwhile, Gallois notes that the company has been making progress fixing management issues on two long-troubled helo programs, the Tiger and. The Tiger issues are now fixed, he says, and while “some hurdles” remain on the NH90, last year was the first time the NH Industries consortium met its delivery commitment, he adds.