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Bell plans to finalize first export contracts with potential clients in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and therefore strengthens its position on the local market, as interest in company’s combat and multirole rotary-wing platforms grows across the whole region.

“Across CEE, we got significant interest from a number of nations. Some of them we obviously can not name due to the competitive nature of the efforts that we are putting in,” said Joel Best, Director of Global Sales and Strategy at Bell. “But I would say that there is great opportunity for Bell and for the H-1 programme with probably 8 or more significant nations of interest,” he added.

Best admitted that Bell is close to finalizing the first export contract within the CEE region. According to him, the Czech Republic is the most promising customer country at the moment. “We are working very closely with the government and industry in the Czech Republic as well. And we hope to see that come to a decision very soon.”

“It is public news that they have received an offer for 8 UH-1Y and 4 AH-1Z,” Best said. “We hope to have a signed contract by the end of this year.”

The company also follows recent developments in Poland, where it plans to take part in the long awaited Kruk programme, which calls for the procurement of a series of attack helicopters. “We are very excited to see that there is a little bit life in the Kruk programme again,” Best said. “We are very active. We are involved and trying to push the process forward and obviously excited to work with Polish industry. We had meetings with PGZ [Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa] and other leaders within Poland.”

The American manufacturer is also very interested in the planned procurement of new rotary-wing platforms by Romania, as the country could become another of Bell’s clients in the region. “We are still very involved in Romania. It is a very large programme: 24 AH-1Zs and 21 UH-1Ys,” admitted Best.

The company also admits, that a big role in its sales offer for the CEE region plays providing the customer country with ability to independently operate, overhaul and maintain its rotary-wing platforms. “Most of the countries we have been dealing with in the region (…) expressed they want to be self-sufficient. They want to do as much of maintaining of these aircraft as possible. So we are working very closely with industry in the respective countries,” added Scott McGowan, Vice President & Program Director H-1/Fire Scout at Bell.

Michal Jarocki