THE ROMANIAN defence ministry has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Bell Helicopter Textron, bringing licensed production of Cobra attack helicopters a step closer.

The MoA, signed on 30 July, stipulates that the Romanian army favours the Cobra and supports its production in the country.

The agreement is said to cover twin-engined AH-1W SuperCobras, rather than the less-advanced, single-engined AH-1F Cobra discussed originally. Romania's interest in the AH-1W initially slowed negotiations, which have been going on for over a year.

Bell is also negotiating with Brasov-based IAR about buying a 51% stake in the company which will be privatised by the end of the year. IAR is expected to produce the helicopter airframes under licence, with dynamic systems coming from Bucharest-based engine manufacturer Turbomecanica.

Romania and the USA signed an agreement in March on the transfer of defence technology, allowing the deal to proceed. Italy's Agusta is also said to have shown an interest in IAR, which produces Eurocopter SA330 Pumas under licence.

Source: Flight International