16 April 2014
Bell UH-1Y Venom - Bell Helicopter has announced its intention to form a strategic alliance with Malaysian defence manufacturer Deftech to seek out industrial joint-venture opportunities in the region. (photo : Shephard)
The companies held a formal signing ceremony of ‘a letter of an expression of intent’ at the Defence Services Asia (DSA) exhibition in Kuala Lumpur on 16 April.
Speaking to Shephard, Vern Bennett, vice president of international military business development for Bell, said the companies wanted to look at the possibility of mutually beneficial projects for industrial collaboration in Malaysia.
Despite the somewhat non-committal nature of the agreement, Bennett emphasised that Bell was serious about exploring joint ventures in the region, and that both companies just needed to sit down and work out how best to proceed.
‘We are really at the point where we are trying to figure out if what they want to do in aerospace fits with what we need to be doing in the region, for example is it supply chain, is it maintenance and repair, is it training, is it helicopter of fixed wing? We don’t know. So we’re going to sit down at the table and figure out what each company would like to happen, and see where the fit is,’ said Bennett.
Bennett said Bell was growing its footprint in Malaysia and, like many companies at DSA, said the company was optimistic about the future growth of the market.
Bell AH-1Z (photo : Anthony Ozborne)
‘We are looking for partners to work with from an industrial standpoint, as well as support and training. Deftech is a successful company here, and with this agreement Deftech are hoping to further their aerospace capabilities, with Bell advancing our strategic needs in the region,’ Bennett continued.
The focus of the agreement calls for cooperation to satisfy potential offset obligations of Bell Helicopter, as well as exploration of collaboration opportunities between DRB-HICOM and the global supply chain for Textron, the parent company of Bell Helicopter.
Bell is also using DSA to advance sales of its V-22, AH-1Z and UH-1Y rotorcraft in the region, hoping to capitalise on potential opportunities that may come up as Malaysia considers its options to develop new shore- and ship-based operations.
‘In terms of the AH-1Z and UH-1Y, there are a number of countries in this region that are interested in expanding their rapid response, maritime, amphibious, expeditionary operations capability. They look around and they see the US Marine Corps [USMC] doing that, so there’s a trend to start engaging with the marine corps as opposed to the traditional army to army, navy to navy relationships,’ said Bob Carrese, Director of international military business development for Bell.
‘We’re also seeing a lot of regional interest in the V-22 obviously because of what’s going on with typhoon relief. The USMC and the V-22 played a huge role in supporting that. The vast area that needs to be covered here, makes the V-22 the perfect solution for disaster relief, search and rescue,’ said Carrese.
He also noted that while the cost of the V-22 was high in terms of Malaysia’s budget, this was mitigated by the fact that, due to its capabilities, it could perform the same function as several different types of aircraft.