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U.S. Navy contracts Bell for AH-1Z long-lead procurement
by Ryan Maass
Washington (UPI) Feb 8, 2017

Damen scouts partners in bid for Australian contract
Brisbane, Australia (UPI) Feb 8, 2017 - The Damen Shipbuilding Group is seeking Australian partners in its bid to win a contract to construct offshore patrol vessels for the Royal Australian Navy.

It has held two industry briefings on its plans this month -- in the cities of Adelaide and Perth -- attracting representatives from over 400 companies to become better acquainted with the capabilities, services and products of local suppliers.

"We are committed to involving both the Australian shipbuilding and marine equipment industries to the max," said Wolter Ten Bokkel Huinink, Damen Australia's Project Manager for the Australian industry.

"The fact that these vessels will be comprehensively built in Australia means that this project is effectively a catalyst to the greater goal of developing a sustainable shipbuilding industry in the country."

Damen is one of three companies shortlisted by the Australian government for the vessels, which are to replace Armidale-class patrol boats, Huon-class minehunters, and Leeuwin-class survey vessels.

As many as 20 OPVs could be ordered.

Bell Helicopter received a $49 million contract to provide long-lead items and components for the U.S. Navy's AH-1Z aircraft.

The agreement covers 27 Lot 15 AH-1Z Vipers operated by the U.S. Marine Corps. The branch has been procuring the combat rotorcraft since 1996, when it launched the H-1 upgrade program with Bell to configure existing AH-1Ws into AH-1Zs.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the work will be performed at Fort Worth and Amarillo in Texas, and is expected to be complete by March 2018.

Bell Helicopter received all funding at the time of the contract award, none of which is set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively awarded. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Bell's AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter adapted from the AH-1W Super Cobra. According to the manufacturer, the rotorcraft is the only helicopter in the world to feature air-to-air missile attack capabilities.

While the Marine Corps is the primary operator of the helicopter, the armed forces of Turkey and South Korea had expressed interest in procuring the aircraft before opting for alternatives. Pakistan has purchased 6 of the helicopters, and expects an additional 9 to be delivered by 2018.

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