Graham Warwick/FARNBOROUGH

Turkey's choice of Bell's KingCobra attack helicopter is expected to boost the US company's chances in contests in Australia, Poland, Japan and South Korea.


The Turkish Government chose the KingCobra, a version of the upgraded AH-1Z SuperCobra with wheeled landing gear, over the Agusta A129 Mangusta International and Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow.

Negotiations will now begin on the first phase of the programme, which calls for 50 aircraft valued at $1.5 billion. Deliveries will begin 36 months after the contract signing and will continue at a rate of one a month.

The Turkish attack helicopter programme is for a total of 145 aircraft to be produced in three phases over the next decade. Despite the selection of the KingCobra for the first tranche, later phases could be reopened to competition.

Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI) will be prime contractor for the programme, with Bell as primary subcontractor. Turkish company Aselsan will provide radios and sighting systems. Other local suppliers will be named by TAI.

Turkey's requirement is for 50% of the contract value to be offset. The assembly breakdown has not been decided, but much of the work will be done in Turkey, says Bell. Offset and workshare agreements are still being negotiated.

The KingCobra is a version of the upgraded AH-1Z underdevelopment for the US Marine Corps. The twin General Electric T700-701C-powered helicopter has a new four-blade composite rotor and uprated transmission for improved hot-and-high performance and a new Litton integrated weapon system.

Turkey operates nine AH-1W SuperCobras. Deliveries of additional helicopters were blocked by the US Government because of concerns about Turkish action against Kurdish rebels. Bell says the KingCobra deal requires clearance by the US State Department and Congress, but it expects approval. "The State Department has been fully aware of this programme," says the company.

Bell recently succeeded in getting the AH-1Z reinstated in the shortlist for Australia's Air 67 attack helicopter programme.

Source: Flight International