WARSAW, Poland — Romania‘s defense minister has unveiled plans to purchase H215 helicopters from a consortium formed by Airbus Helicopters and Romania’s state-controlled aerospace company IAR.

Mihai Fifor said in an interview with local radio broadcaster Europa FM that the ministry aims to pay a 30 percent advance for the first four helos by the end of this year.

The procurement is to comprise 15 or 16 of the heavyweight, twin-engine helicopters, according to local media reports. The value of the planned contract was not disclosed.

The announcement comes about three months after Fifor’s predecessor, Adrian Tutuianu, signed a letter of intent with Bell Helicopter to acquire new combat helos for the country’s armed forces. The U.S. manufacturer is to set up a joint venture with a subsidiary of the country’s state-owned defense group Romarm to produce helicopters in Romania.

Under the plan, the Romanian military is to obtain 45 aircraft from the U.S.-Romanian joint venture, including 24 AH-1Z Vipers helicopters and 21 UH-1Y Venom helicopters.

IAR operates a plant in Brasov, central Romania. The company’s range includes the Puma and Alouette III helos made under license from Airbus Helicopters.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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