The establishment of an Algerian factory to produce Leonardo-Finmeccanica helicopters has moved a step forward with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the new joint venture.
The agreement was signed on 11 August in Algiers by the Algerian ministry of defence and Leonardo-Finmeccanica, according to Algeria’s defence ministry.
The new facility will be built at the Ain Arnat site in Setif Province and will assemble light to medium helicopters such as the AW109, AW139 and AW101. “From the first year and following the construction of [the] plant, the main objective of this company is to manufacture three types of light and medium helicopters for various use including the transport of personnel and cargo, medical evacuation, surveillance and control,” the ministry of defence said in a statement.
Algeria will own 51% of the helicopter manufacturing facility and Leonardo-Finmeccanica the rest. This is part of the government’s programme for economic and military development and will support the development of high-tech industries such as composite materials, precision engineering and electronics.
According to a report published by North African defence news network Mena Defense in April 2015, the setting up of the helicopter plant was part of the deal signed between the Algerian government and Italian defence equipment manufacturer Leonardo-Finmeccania for the delivery of AgustaWestland helicopters to Algerian security forces in 2011.
Several months ago Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said that, “The National Investment Council (NIC) and the Council of State holdings (CPE) have agreed to create a high-end helicopter manufacturing plant and much of these will be for the export market. We have to seek growth elsewhere in the real economic sphere where public and private companies are the keystone.”
Over the past few years, the Algerian Air Force, Presidency, Gendarmerie, Marine, Police Service and civil protection units have acquired large numbers of AgustaWestland helicopters. The company has sold at least 78 helicopters to the North African country worth around $1.3 billion.
This includes eight AW101s, 24 AW109s (ten for the Police and 14 for the Gendarmerie, eight AW119 Koalas for pilot training, 20 AW139s (six for the Civil Protection Department, 11 for the Air Force and three for the Navy) and ten Super Lynx for the Navy. Polish-based Swidnik has also supplied helicopters to Algeria, with eight W-3A Sokols being delivered in 2014.