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American Eurocopter asks for support

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 5/30/2013 9:54 pm
(Susan Parker)
(Susan Parker)
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) -- American Eurocopter rallied its troops for a war of a different sort Thursday morning.

Employees waved signs before federal, state, and local leaders hoping for support and a future.

"My concerns are not having a job-not being able to take care of my kids. We're a great company. I would hate that it wouldn't be here anymore," employee Chasity Desmidt said.

Proposed federal budget cuts handed down in April could mean the chopping block for the Lakota by 2015.

If the Department of Defense decides to cut the Lakota, that could result in job losses-something this company doesn't want to see.

"We're ready to perform and keep up this exemplary effort having built nearly 300 helicopters so far that all meet the best standards in the Army and National Guard and the Navy," EADS North America Chairman and CEO Sean O'Keefe said.

"It's a safe helicopter. It's a high-performing helicopter and we're very proud to build it here in Mississippi," employee Lee Hopper said.

President Obama is calling for budget cuts across the board and that includes the Department of Defense.

The state's congressional delegation has a big challenge on their hands.

Representative Alan Nunnelee, a member of the powerful House Appropriations committee, will not predict the company's chances for federal support, but he does say going to a different aircraft is not the answer.

"I'm concerned the army may be utilizing some other helicopter that can do the job, but particularly when it comes to operations or maintenance, they're not as efficient as the Lakota," Representative Nunnelee said.

Governor Phil Bryant says he understands cuts must be made to alleviate some of the strain on the national debt but at the same time, he feels it is counterproductive to cancel a successful, cost-effective program.
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