Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) has won a contract to maintain Taiwan's fleet of Bell AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters, and is also poised to win a further deal to upgrade the aircraft. The maintenance award is worth NT$770 million ($22.7 million) over eight years, with 20% of the work to go to local company Air Asia, which already maintains Taiwan's Bell OH-58D and TH-67 helicopter fleets.

Air Asia will repair some AH-1W components and help AIDC to develop a maintenance capability, having failed in its bid to secure a prime role on the project.

Taiwan's AH-1Ws and OH-58Ds are both in line for avionics and safety upgrades, with Bell expected to receive prime contracts but to outsource work with AIDC and Air Asia, respectively.

The programmes include the provision of crashworthy pilot seats, new radios and embedded GPS navigation systems, with the AH-1Wsalso to receive chaff dispensers and suppressor engine exhausts.

Worth about $100 million, the AH-1W upgrade is slated to cover 62 aircraft from 2005, with a $50 million upgrade to 39 OH-58Ds likely to begin in 2006.

Source: Flight International