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Bell Helicopter AH-1Z earns Navy approval for full rate production

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that the U.S. Marine Corps' newest attack helicopter, the AH-1Z Cobra, was approved for full rate production Nov. 28.

The H-1 program office received official word on the Milestone III approval decision from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Dr. Ashton B. Carter through an acquisition decision memorandum.

"The AH-1Z is a magnificent machine and I am thrilled that the Zulu has now been authorized for full rate production," said John L Garrison, president Bell Helicopter. "The partnership between Bell Helicopter and the Navy-Marine Corp team demonstrates that we are both fully committed to providing the best for our warfighters."

After completing operational testing this summer, the AH-1Z was determined to be operationally effective and suitable, a finding that is a prerequisite to the full rate production decision.

"Getting the Zulu into full rate production is very important for the Marines and for our Nation," said Rear Adm. Steve Eastburg, Program Executive Officer for Air, Assault and Special Mission Programs. "Both the UH-1Y and AH-1Z deliver superb combat effectiveness to the Marine warfighter. We continue to build in production cost efficiencies to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the most for every dollar spent."

The Marine Corps is replacing the two-bladed AH-1W with the AH-1Z, which features a new, four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and a fully integrated glass cockpit.

A total of 189 new and remanufactured AH-1Z helicopters are anticipated, with deliveries expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

The AH-1Z Cobra helicopters are part of the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Upgrade Program. The program's goal is to replace AH-1W helicopters with new and remanufactured AH-1Zs which provide significantly greater performance, supportability and growth potential over their predecessors.

The H-1 Upgrade Program offers 84 percent commonality of parts between the AH-1Z and UH-1Y utility helicopters. This commonality reduces lifecycle and training costs and decreases the expeditionary logistics footprint for both aircraft.

Press release issued by Bell Helicopter Textron on December 9, 2010


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