Bell Helicopter is participating at IDEF 2015 exhibition, held by the cooperation of Tüyap Fairs and Exhibitions Organization Inc. from May 5 till May 8, 2015. IDEF is a vital regional-leading show which provides Bell Helicopter the chance to show its latest technology to representatives from more than 50 countries.
In that context, SDArabia held a special interview with Mr. Rich Harris, Vice President for International Military Sales for Bell Helicopter, who stated that Bell Helicopter looks forward to meeting with delegates from many of the key regional partners, mentioning that Turkey plays a vital role in the geopolitical stability of Western Asia and Southeastern Europe, so it should be no surprise that this show is significant becoming one of the vital engagements for Bell Helicopter.
Mr. Harris continued: “Bell Helicopter is now back better stronger than ever with a product line in commercial and military that exceeds most if not all of the international competitors. Military has three active production lines for the UH-1Y (Yankee) combat utility, AH-1Z (Zulu) attack, and V-22 (Osprey) Tiltrotor. All three of these aircraft are available for international sales. The UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters are the most effective and efficient means of accomplishing an array of missions anywhere in the world”.
“The state of the art features and multi role capabilities of the 1Y and 1Z are ideally suited to militaries intending to bolster combat power across the broadest set of missions with an affordable cost of ownership. 85% of parts are common to both the Yankee and Zulu thus reducing the logistics footprint, training costs and burdens on the supply system”, said Mr Harris. “The “Yankee” and “Zulu” programs are still being produced to satisfy the US Marine Corps program of record (160 Yankees, 189 Zulus). Production lines are hot through 2022, and we expect to extend that with Foreign Military Sales. 2015 will be the first year to see military exports of these advanced aircraft. The AH-1Z and UH-1Y are designed for the USMC, so they are capable of operating in the most extreme environments, from Arctic cold to desert heat. The marinised airframes are well matched to state of the art sensors, providing corrosion resistance in coastal or humid environments as well as dusty or degraded conditions”.
As for the V-22 tiltrotor aircraft, Mr. Harris said that it has changed the way the United States Marine Corps (USMC) operates. The aircraft continues to achieve outstanding mission success: it has been deployed in Afghanistan and in Asia Pacific (Philippines humanitarian aid), performing missions not possible for other aircraft. The V-22 continues to be one of the safest and most survivable rotorcraft in the USMC. The Osprey fleet has logged more than 260,000 flight hours, and the tactical flexibility of the MV-22 has made it the most in-demand aircraft in the USMC.
Concerning the Osprey, Mr. Harris mentioned that it will likely remain the nation’s crisis response platform of choice in support of the new way of conducting operations. The international interest in the aircraft has grown over 300% in the last 2 years. Since this is a sophisticated platform, it is desired by countries with larger militaries and expeditionary / humanitarian missions. We are currently marketing the platform in about 20 countries, and expect to sign our first sale with Japan in 2015.
“Regarding the commercial side, Bell was always active in Turkey but only in the last 3 years have we seen such great success. This success is due to the introduction of new products like the 429 and the upcoming 505 Jet Ranger X and the 525. We increased our sales and support staff not just in Turkey but throughout the world and we are seeing a return on our investment”, said Mr. Harris.
He continued: “The company established a regional office in Turkey about 2-3 years ago. Since that time, we have captured nearly half of the commercial market in Turkey believing that this is only the beginning. Once the 505 Jet Ranger X and the 525 become operational, we see our ability to provide solutions to our Turkish customers expanding across more aviation sectors”.
“We believe that the aviation market is only going to grow in Turkey over the long term. Because of its geography and expanding economy, Turkey is well suited for rotary wing aviation and Bell Helicopters in particular. Our customers can either seek support through our local Customer Support Facility or through our European Headquarters in Prague, or from our new office in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Of course, we have our Customer Support Engineers who will see to the special needs of our customers.
The Bell 429 will continue to dominate the light twin market for several years to come in Turkey. Once the 505 is produced, it will be a perfect fit for tourism and air taxi services. Of course, with the expanding energy potential of Turkey and the increased need for lift as well as a growing corporate market the 525 will have a place as well”. “We still make the venerable 206 but in limited quantities and the 407 GXP was just introduced this year with improvement in our standard 407 design. For commercial twin engine we have the 429 which has been very popular in Turkey and our work horse the 412 still generates a lot of interest”, concluded Mr. Harris.