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Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company and Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ), a Polish leader in defense technologies, recently signed a letter of intent (LOI) at the Bell Helicopter world headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The two companies will cooperate in identifying specific industrial resources required in the support of the “Kruk” Program, an effort on the part of the government of Poland to acquire attack helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces.
The LOI signed by Bell Helicopter and PGZ outlines in greater specifics the support which PGZ can provide for the AH-1Z “Viper”, the world’s most advanced anti-tank attack helicopter. The agreement is a key milestone in the cooperation between the two companies, and follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two companies in June this year.
“We believe this step with PGZ allows us to build on this relationship and increase cooperation in the future,” said Robert T. Hastings, executive vice president at Bell Helicopter. “We consider this a path to further define available technological solutions in support of our effort to introduce the Bell AH-1Z ‘Viper’ attack helicopter in Poland for the Polish Armed Forces ‘Kruk’ program. We are also looking forward to exploring new opportunities related to Poland’s utility helicopter program. Bell Helicopter values our relationship with PGZ, and we consider our continued work with the Polish defense industry as a top priority.”
“Bell Helicopter is a worldwide leader in the aeronautic and defense industries, and we see this LOI as a way for PGZ and the Polish defense sector to further develop the innovation and technological thought of Polish industry,” said Arkadiusz Siwko, president of the management board at PGZ. “We are gratified that Bell Helicopter continues to work toward building a relationship with PGZ as this provides an unmet potential to support the Kruk attack helicopter acquisition program for the Polish army.”
The AH-1Z Viper entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011. It is currently operated in some of the world’s harshest conditions and is environmentally hardened to resist severe weather conditions.
The AH-1Z Viper shares 85 percent commonality of major components with Bell Helicopter’s UH-1Y Venom utility rotorcraft, enhancing deployability and maintainability, while reducing training requirements and the logistical footprint between the two platforms and ultimately lowering total life cycle costs in terms of acquisition, operations, maintenance and support.
The AH-1Z is equipped with the most accurate, longest range helicopter sight available. The Viper’s Targeting Sight System from Lockheed Martin provides a crucial advantage by allowing the pilot to positively identify and track multiple enemy targets at ranges beyond the maximum range of its weapons system in order to acquire and destroy enemy targets.
Bell Helicopter has been working with the Polish defense industry for the greater part of 2016. Earlier this year, the Texas-based company organized a series of meetings with representatives from Polish aviation and defense industries in order to create cooperation in support of the AH-1Z Viper in Poland. In late June, Bell Helicopter along with representatives from Viper suppliers Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Northrop Grumman and Thales, held workshops with state-owned and private companies representing the Polish defense and aviation sectors. The same week marked the announcement of a memorandum of understanding Bell Helicopter signed with PGZ.
Representatives of Bell Helicopter and Team Viper spoke to nearly 40 Polish defense companies and facility owners in order to attain the highest potential of common interests in terms of technology and the potential of probable cooperation between Bell Helicopter, Team Viper companies and Polish industry. Bell Helicopter facilitated discussions between H-1 program engineers, experts representing industrial participation, production, technical support, logistics and supply chain alongside the counterparts from Team Viper, and also spoke directly with Polish representatives of the industry with their specialists.