Romania has recently taken a step forward in its plans to procure both the Bell UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper helicopters for which it earlier issued a letter of request (LOR).
Speaking to Jane’s on 17 July, Bell’s international business development manager Joel Best said that the early industrial components of the deal for 21 Venom utility and 24 Viper attack helicopters have been worked through, and that the programme is moving ahead.
“We are working with the [Ministry of Defence] MoD and industry, and have completed the first phase of the transition study for in-country check-out and transfer of technology,” Best said during the Farnborough Airshow. “There will be some [maintenance, repair and overhaul] MRO opportunities for Romania, and we certainly see this as a long-term partnership.” As part of its offering to Romania, Bell signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with IAR - Ghimbav Brasov Group for the support of the Venom and Viper.
Romania has a requirement to replace 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. Best told Jane’s that in its selection of the Venom and Viper platforms Romania is following the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) model of operations, whereby small deployment packages of helicopters can be easily supported in the field.
“There is 85% commonality between the Venom and Viper, which means that a maintainer on one and easily work on the other. This is true for the pilots also – they can transfer from one to the other,” Best said. “Romania understands that with its potential enemy [of Russia], it cannot have all of its helicopters parked out on big bases – they need to be forward deployed.”
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