Skip to comments.Bell Helicopters' upgraded H-1 generates foreign interest
Posted on 02/03/2013 12:40:50 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Bell Helicopters' upgraded H-1 generates foreign interest
(Reuters) - As U.S. budget pressures mount, the U.S. Marine Corps says growing foreign demand could help drive down the unit cost of its new upgraded H-1 utility and attack helicopters built by Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc (TXT.N).
Major General John Croley, assistant deputy commandant for aviation, said the new helicopters had greater range and capabilities that would enhance the Marines' ability to work with allies across the Asia-Pacific region.
He said increased interest from countries in Asia and the Middle East could help lower the cost of the new helicopters as U.S. defense budgets come under increasing pressure.
"Foreign military sales are a good thing for the taxpayers' investment in our military systems," Croley told Reuters in a telephone interview, noting that the Marine Corps was also hoping the U.S. government would back the sale of the V-22 Osprey, which is built by Bell Helicopter and Boeing Co (BA.N), overseas soon.
Bell Helicopter is one of three industry teams competing for a multibillion-dollar order from South Korea for 36 new attack helicopters, with a contract award due this spring, said Bell Helicopter spokesman Greg Hubbard. Boeing (BA.N) and AgustWestland, a unit of Italy's Finmeccanica SpA (SIFI.MI), are also bidding for the order.
In the Middle East, Iraq and Bahrain have requested pricing and availability data for the upgraded versions of the H-1 helicopters, said two sources familiar with the program who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Iraq is looking at a possible purchase of 24 AH-1Z helicopters for the Iraqi Army and 6-8 UH-1Y Maritime Utility helicopters for its Navy. Bahrain is eyeing a possible purchase of 14 AH-1Z attack helicopters, said the sources.
Many other countries are also interested in buying older H-1 model helicopters from the
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