Mexico signs deal for six Eurocopter military helicopters
Mexico signed a deal with France to buy six military helicopters from Eurocopter on Wednesday, officials said, amid increasing pressure on its troops in a wave of drug-related violence.
The six EC 725 Cougar helicopters, also known as "Caracal," will join six others already delivered by the helicopter unit of European aerospace giant EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space), a French embassy official said.
The agreement was first announced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Mexico last year.
The helicopters would be used to transport staff, not only in anti-drug operations, a Mexican defense ministry spokesman told AFP.
The government has deployed some 50,000 troops across the country since 2006 to take on its powerful drug cartels. A spike in drug-related violence has left some 28,000 people dead since then, according to official figures.
France has also loaned Mexico two EC 725 helicopters to take part in a military parade in the capital on Thursday, during celebrations of the bicentenary of the start of Mexico's independence from Spain.
© 2010 AFP