Bell Helicopter (Stand Q01) signed a teaming agreement here Tuesday with BAE Systems Australia to promote and support the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter in that country. Bell is eyeing a potential Australian requirement, following that country’s dissatisfaction with its fleet of 22 Airbus Helicopter Tigers. BAE Systems will oversee maintenance and sustainment, and do training.
The agreement also includes the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter which, like the Viper, is in service with the U.S. Marine Corps. Lisa Atherton, executive vice-president of military business for Bell Helicopters, noted that both machines were designed for marine as well as overland operation, and able to withstand corrosive saltwater environments. “Countries acquiring the aircraft now will gain the strategic advantage of interoperability with the U.S. Marine Corps,” she said.
“We are one of Australia’s leading total aircraft sustainment providers,” said Steve Drury, aerospace director of BAE Systems Australia (Stand M79). “We have been maintaining rotary-wing aircraft for more than 20 years,” he added.
The Australian Army has articulated an “upgrade or replace” policy for its Tigers, and the forthcoming defense White Paper is expected to allocate funding. They are not currently deemed suitable for deployment onto the navy’s two Canberra-class amphibious assault ships.