Romania has given Bell until next month to resubmit a proposal to take over state-run aerospace manufacturer IAR Brasov and establish a licence production line for the AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopter.

Bell presented fresh proposals to the Romanian prime minister on 23 June, and was given a 60-day extension to restructure its offer. The Romanian cabinet has set 1 August as the deadline for the US manufacturer to come up with a new plan for the Brasov plant.

According to government officials, a decision will be made simultaneously on the future of the helicopter programme, which has been designated locally as the AH-1RO Dracula.

"We are finalising our offer to the finance ministry and the Prime Minister and others are supporting the deal," claims Bell.

Dracula discussions have dragged on for more than four years, and have been hindered by the repeated changes in government. Last year, the then Romanian administration approved the deal and it went forward for funding. The International Monetary Fund, however, blocked the $1.5 billion programme as a condition of aiding the Romanian economy.

Should the Bell deal finally fall through, however, Bucharest will have to re-open the privatisation of IAR Brasov.

Bell had originally said that it planned to take a 70% stake, but this appears to vary with the fluctuation in the planned size of the Dracula order. Romania had intended producing 96 AH-1ROs, but this may be reduced to fewer than 60. Elbit is to supply sensors and systems.

Source: Flight International