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Bell Textron states intention to bid for South Korea helicopter contract

Bell-Textron is signaling an interest in bidding for a South Korean helicopter contract. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Bell-Textron is signaling an interest in bidding for a South Korean helicopter contract. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- South Korea has received a bid from a U.S. aerospace manufacturer for attack helicopters that can be introduced to South Korea's Marine Corps.

Vince Tobin, executive vice president at Bell Textron Inc., based in Fort Worth, Texas, said Wednesday at a virtual press conference in Seoul that the company's AH-1Z Viper would provide superior support, Yonhap and Newsis reported.

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The helicopter with anti-armor and air-to-air missile capabilities can take on the "broadest array of threats" in "any environment on land or sea" while withstanding saltwater corrosion and resistant to dust and sand, the U.S. manufacturer said.

Tobin said Bell Textron seeks a long-term relationship with Seoul.

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"Bell has had a long relationship with the Korean industry as a supplier of critical aircraft components," Tobin said.

"Today, with the new AH-1Z, Bell hopes to extend its relationship with Korea into the next generation."

Nate Green, a senior manager at Bell Textron, said Wednesday that the Viper's four-bladed composite rotor system provides "best-in-class" performance and that the helicopter has been deployed around the world since 2010.

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The U.S. Marines deployed AH-1 helicopters during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bell Textron's helicopters also were deployed to Libya in 2016, according to Forbes.

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Green said Wednesday that the U.S. and South Korean Marines maintain close cooperation and the Viper would further improve attack helicopter capabilities of the two forces.

Retired Lt. Gen. George Trautman, a former deputy commandant for aviation at U.S. Marine Corps, said the deployment of the Viper would improve efficiency for combined operations.

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South Korea's military previously referred to attack helicopters during parliamentary audits in Seoul.

South Korean Marine Corps Commandant Lt. Gen. Lee Seung-do had said at an audit in October that Seoul seeks an aircraft for attack aims. Among South Korea's options, the Viper best fits the description, reports say.

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