Bell signs AH-1Z MoU with Romanian industry

14 November 2016
Bell has signed an MoU with Romanian industry as part of a wider strategy to target Eastern Europe for both its AH-1Z (pictured) and UH-1Y helicopters. Source: IHS\Gareth Jennings

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.

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