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Airbus, MTU seek stake in future helicopter with 6 other German firms

BUECKEBURG, Germany, July 5 (Reuters) - Airbus Helicopters Deutschland and engine maker MTU Aero Engines on Wednesday announced they had teamed up with six other German firms to push for a role in managing and maintaining a future German military heavy-lift helicopter.

The companies signed a partnership agreement in which they underscored the importance of the German procurement program, for which the German Defence Ministry has earmarked 3.84 billion euros ($4.35 billion) in budget plans through 2029.

This program is "too big for Germany industry not to be involved," Airbus's Stefan Woelfle told a helicopter conference in the town of Bueckeburg, near the northern city of Hanover.

Airbus officials say they don't have a helicopter large enough for German likely military's needs, but want to take a close look at the requirements when they are released by the defense ministry, a move that could occur next year.

German defense officials have said they want a low-risk helicopter that already exists, which means the competition will likely be between the CH-47F built by Boeing Co and the CH-53K built by Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp .

Both companies already work closely with German industry and have said they would seek to form partnerships to build a future German helicopter.

The ministry has not said if it would hold a separate competition for certification, logistics and maintenance of the helicopter. Airbus officials say that would ensure the continued health of the German helicopter industry.

($1 = 0.8825 euros) (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Nienaber)