Bell Helicopter has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Romanian company IAR - Ghimbav Brasov Group for the potential support of the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter.
The MoU, announced on 14 November, covers the possible maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of the AH-1Z should it be procured by the Romanian government.
The Romanian Air Force (RoAF) currently fields 37 indigenously produced IAR-330 Puma tactical helicopters, of which about 20 are the SOCAT multirole variant that has been modified to carry a 20 mm cannon and Spike anti-tank missiles. While Romania has yet to launch a formal tender for their replacement, companies are beginning to position themselves for an anticipated requirement. Prior to Bell Helicopter's MoU with IAR - Ghimbav Brasov Group, Airbus Helicopters had opened up a new 10,000m 2 factory in Brasov to host H215 production.
Romania is one of a number of Eastern European countries that Bell Helicopter has targeted as potential future customers for its AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Viper platforms. In May, the company signed an MoU with MPI Group in Prague as part of a wider strategy to sell the UH-1Y to the Czech Republic. The Armed Forces of the Czech Republic has a pressing need to replace many of its Warsaw Pact-era inventories, which include Mil Mi-2 'Hoplite', Mi-8/17 'Hip', and Mi-24 'Hind' helicopters.
Elsewhere in the regional market, Hungary needs to replace its fleet of seven Russian-built Mil Mi-24 'Hind' assault helicopters that reached the end of their service lives in 2012, as well as its 27 (including 18 in storage) Mil- Mi-8 'Hip' transport helicopters, while Poland also needs to replace 25 ageing Mi-24s.
While the UH-1Y is traditionally seen as a utility platform and the AH-1Z as an attack platform, Bell Helicopter notes that the former also has a pretty potent strike capability in its own right.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options ihs.com/contact