• A Bell 429 at the Avalon Air Show.
Nigel Pittaway
    A Bell 429 at the Avalon Air Show. Nigel Pittaway

Tenders close for Army’s Special Forces Support Helicopter project (Land 2097 Phase 4) on Friday 10 July and three teams have now publicly declared their intent to bid.

As Managing Editor Katherine Ziesing wrote last week, Airbus Australia Pacific will offer its Airbus H145M solution, and Babcock Australia has previously announced it will team with Bell to bid the Bell 429 helicopter.

This week, ADM can confirm that Bell is also teamed with Hawker Pacific and will also offer the twin-engine Bell 429 for the requirement. Bell and Hawker Pacific had previously announced their intent to team for Land 2097/4 at the 2018 Land Forces exhibition in Adelaide and Bell’ business director for Australia, NZ and the Pacific Rim, Dan McQuestin confirmed on Monday that the team is still in the race and will lodge its bid before tenders close.

In effect this means Bell is partnered with Babcock Australia and Hawker Pacific in two separate bids. “Hawker Pacific was a natural fit for Bell given their strong track record in defence and performance-based sustainment contracts in Australia and our partnership with Hawker Pacific as a Bell Customer Service Facility and Independent Representative for many years,” McQuestin said.

“Babcock went through their own internal selection process, they’re platform agnostic and they selected Bell and the Bell 429 as the best platform. They wished to partner with us, as a prime systems integrator for Land 2097/4, and we agreed.”

McQuestin said Bell’s role in both teams is that of ‘prime subcontractor’ to each company, who are each the prime systems integrator for their respective bid.

The Hawker Pacific/Bell team had previously advised it would offer the single-engine Bell 407GT and/or Bell 429 for Army’s requirement, but after the RFT was released it has settled on the latter helicopter. “Our bid is driven by the specifications in the tender and we felt that the 429 was a better fit for those requirements,” McQuestin explained. “We believe that having two primes offering the Bell 429 for Land 2097 will bring two unique and differentiated offerings to the ADF.”

Editor's Note: The following is a statement from Hawker Pacific. "Hawker Pacific confirms that we will respond to the tender for this capability and our solution is based upon the Bell 429 aircraft. Our position is that we will continue with a strategic low-profile engagement that respects the sensitivity of the Special Operations customer and capability."

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