By Choi Soo-hyang
SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- Bell Textron Inc., a U.S. aerospace manufacturer, announced its bid to sell attack helicopters to South Korea on Wednesday as the country's Marine Corps plans to launch an aviation wing next year.
Bell Textron said its AH-1Z Viper with anti-armor and air-to-air missile capabilities can engage in and defeat "the broadest array of threats" in "any environment on land or sea."
"Bell has had a long relationship with the Korean industry as a supplier of critical aircraft components," Vince Tobin, the Executive Vice President of Military Business at Bell, said during a virtual press conference.
"Today, with the new AH-1Z, Bell hopes to extend its relationship with Korea into the next generation," he added.
South Korea is currently mulling over whether to develop an armed version of the country's mobile helicopter or to buy attack choppers from abroad.
In October, Marine Corps commandant Lt. Gen. Lee Seung-do said they want aircraft that are currently used for attack purposes, not an armed version of a MUH-1 Marineon, the Marine variant of South Korea's KUH-1 Surion helicopter.
Ret. Lt. Gen. George Trautman, a former deputy commandant for aviation at U.S. Marine Corps, said South Korea's deployment of Viper will improve efficiency in the two countries' combined operations based on the aircraft's interoperability.
The U.S. Marine Corps has agreed to buy 189 Viper aircraft with production to continue through 2022, Bell Textron said.
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