Magazine article National Defense

AgustaWestland Officials Pursue Sales to U.S. Military

Magazine article National Defense

AgustaWestland Officials Pursue Sales to U.S. Military

Article excerpt

Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland has long been a commercial juggernaut, but it has not been as successful in attracting sales to the U.S. federal government. Robert LaBelle, the new CEO of its North American branch, has made it his goal to change that, he told National Defense.

The U.S. military does not fly any Agus-taWestland rotorcraft and, in a tight budget environment, has sought to focus on recapitalizing its helicopters rather than procuring new ones. However, the services could be persuaded to buy new aircraft if the company can provide cost savings, he said.

"One of the things that I've been focused on is developing good cost analyses and business cases to go to the agencies [and] the services," he said. "With more modern capabilities and aircraft, they can possibly recapitalize inside their current operating budget ... because they spend so much on support costs."

In some cases, the military can afford to acquire and operate new aircraft at the same cost of flying and maintaining legacy fleets, LaBelle contends. He also is putting forward alternatives to the traditional procurement process, such as leasing aircraft and lease-to-purchase agreements.

"If this is a challenging time, then that calls for doing things differently," he said. "I think it also calls for doing things with different partners than you have traditionally, because then those new partners can bring in ... new products and new ideas."

Although few new U. …

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