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Bell Helicopter and U.S. Army sign cooperative agreement to develop drive system technologies

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company (NYSE: TXT) and the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate have signed a $30 million Technology Investment Agreement to develop state-of-the-art drive system technology under the Future Advanced Rotorcraft Drive System (FARDS) program.

The FARDS program is focused on critical performance and affordability enhancing drive system technologies for the U.S. Army's Current/Future Force fleet of rotorcraft, as well as commercial rotorcraft. The program is targeting a 55 percent improvement in drive system power-to-weight ratio, a 35 percent reduction in production, operating and support costs, 90 percent automatic detection of critical failures and an 18 decibel reduction in drive system-generated noise.

"FARDS is a great opportunity to develop key technologies to serve as the foundation of a rotorcraft drive system for the year 2015 and beyond," said Ryan Ehinger, Bell Helicopter program manager for FARDS. "Drive systems are a core technology at Bell Helicopter, and we are proud to focus on enhanced capabilities for those whose livelihoods depend on our products."

The agreement, worked through Bell's Xworx organization, brings together a diverse group of subcontractors with unique expertise in the fields of materials, processing, heat transfer, diagnostics and more, complementing Bell's design and manufacturing strengths.

The five year FARDS program will develop more than 18 new technologies resulting in full scale demonstrations of a main rotor gearbox and tail rotor driveshaft system.

"The goals are challenging, but it will be exciting to see how the results of this collaboration transition to the commercial and military product lines," Ehinger said. "We are looking forward to contributing to this important initiative."

Press release issued by Bell Helicopter Textron on November 8, 2010


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