BELL HELICOPTER Textron is to release a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the AH-1W cockpit upgrade in September, followed by a final RFP in October.

The US company is conducting the cockpit-upgrade competition, under its overall contract, to upgrade US Marine Corps AH-1Ws and UH-1Ns.

The deadline for bids is planned for January 1997, and Bell plans to award the contract later in 1997. The cockpit upgrade is based on the aborted AH-1W integrated weapon system (IWS) programme and includes integrated digital avionics, "glass" cockpits and helmet-mounted displays. IWS bidders are likely to compete for the new contract.

The successful bidder will provide two ship-sets of flight-worthy hardware for use in development of the AH-1W upgrade.

Under the Marine Corps' H-1 upgrade programme, its AH-1Ws will receive four-blade rotor systems and updated cockpits, while its UH-1Ns will receive the same type of four-blade rotor systems as those of the AH-1Ws, and General Electric T700 engines.

Source: Flight International