European aerospace company Airbus’ subsidiary Airbus Helicopters and its partner French airline Heli-Union have signed a contract to support the Cougar and Caracal helicopters being used by the French Army and Air Force.

The agreement was signed with the DMAé, a defence agency that is responsible for increasing the availability of military aircraft in France.

According to Airbus, this is the first contract signed by Airbus Helicopters under a new approach initiated by French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly.

The long-term contract is aimed at increasing the availability of the Caracal and Cougar fleets by making Airbus Helicopters responsible for the aircraft’s support.

Airbus Helicopters said that it has committed to limiting the number of aircraft in heavy maintenance by cutting the duration of the maintenance cycles for each type of helicopter by up to 20%.

Furthermore, the commitments pertaining to logistics and technical assistance are expected to reduce the downtime related to these activities.

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Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even said: “Airbus Helicopters has committed to ambitious performance levels for the support of the Cougar and Caracal helicopters in service in the French army and airforce.

“This contract is the result of months of cooperation with the DMAé, and I am confident it will deliver the level of support that the French armed forces expect to perform their critical missions both nationally and in operational theatres abroad.”

The Airbus subsidiary, in cooperation with Heli Union, is also expected to propose a maintenance centre close to one of the sites of its customer in Pau. The company said that it will also involve a number of French SMEs in the equipment repair activities.

The French Armed Forces operate 18 H225Ms, known as Caracal in French service, as well as 26 Cougars. Some of these are currently performing troop transport, special forces, and search and rescue missions in operations worldwide.