WARSAW, Poland – Romanian Defense Minister Adrian Tutuianu has signed a letter of intent with Bell Helicopter to purchase new combat helos for the country’s armed forces.

The signing of the agreement will be followed by “a thorough discussion between representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Bell Helicopter on the establishment of a joint venture, and a transfer of technology and know-how to allow the production of helicopters in Romania,” the Romanian government said in a statement.

The deal comes soon after Romania’s top defense body approved a €9.8 billion (U.S. $11.5 billion) spending plan for the next decade and has pledged to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, as NATO requests of its members.

Under the plan, the U.S. manufacturer is to establish a joint venture with a subsidiary of the country’s state-owned defense group Romarm to produce copters in Romania. The designed plant is expected to produce AH-1Z Viper twin-engine attack helos. The value of the planned contract was not disclosed.

Tutuianu told local news agency Agerpres that “Bell Helicopter agreed to this proposal”, but that such a transfer of technology could only be carried out with the approval of the U.S. government.

Funds for the planned procurement will be provided from the €9.8 billion (U.S. $11.6 billion) package that the country’s cabinet aims to allocate to military acquisitions in the years 2017 to 2026. The plan was approved earlier this week by the Romanian Supreme Council of National Defence.

Romarm was set up in 2000 with the aim to consolidate the country’s fragmented defense industry. The group operates 15 subsidiaries in Romania, including production facilities and a research and development entity.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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