Bell Helicopter Textron has dropped plans to take over Romanian aerospace manufacturer IAR Brasov and set up an AH-1W SuperCobra licenses production line after failing to get a government response to its latest proposals.

Bell presented its proposals to the Romanian Government in late June and was expecting to receive a response in August (Flight International 7-13 July).

The move marks the end of a four-year saga in which the US manufacturer's efforts to finalise a deal were repeatedly frustrated by changes in the Romanian Government and funding problems.

Bell had been intending to take a 70% stake in state-owned IAR Brasov, which would then have manufactured up to 96 AH-1RO "Dracula" attack helicopters for the Romanian armed forces.

Last year the government approved the $1.5 billion helicopter programme, but the purchase was blocked by the International Monetary Fund as a condition of it providing financial help for Romania's ailing economy.

Bell now hopes to win a major attack helicopter deal in Poland. Its prospects of securing the contract have been boosted by the Dracula pull-out, as Poland can now be offered production rights for all of central and eastern Europe.

The company confirms it is examining co-operation with local helicopter manufacturer PZL-Swidnik. Poland is yet to issue a formal request for proposals covering its 50-aircraft requirement.

Bell is proposing a Polish SuperCobra production line initially building AH-1Ws. These would eventually be upgraded to the latest AH-1Z "Zulu" standard.

The SuperCobra could face stiff competition in Poland from Agusta's A129 Mangusta attack helicopter. Poland also plans to upgrade 50 W-3 Sokol helicopters for battlefield support.

Source: Flight International