Boeing, Bell win multibillion-dollar contract for 99 V-22s

WASHINGTON Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:23pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) and Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc (TXT.N), on Wednesday won an additional $4.9 billion contract for work on 99 V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, on top of a $1.4 preliminary contract awarded in December.

The deal, which has a combined value of around $6.3 billion, calls for construction of 92 MV-22 aircraft for the Marine Corps and 7 CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft for the Air Force, the Pentagon said in its daily digest of major arms contracts.

Work on the five-year contract, first reported by Reuters on Monday, must be completed by September 2019, the Defense Department said.

Marine Corps Colonel Gregory Masiello told Reuters on Monday that the multiyear contract, the second one signed for the V-22 program, included options for 22 additional aircraft. He said the government's decision to sign the five-year agreement underscored its confidence in a program that had once been threatened with cancellation.

Boeing and Bell Helicopter jointly build the V-22 aircraft, or Osprey, which can fly as fast as a plane but lands like a helicopter. The program is getting good reviews for its performance in combat after a rocky start that saw 23 Marines killed during flight testing in 2000. Two more Marines were killed during a training exercise in Morocco last year.

(Reporting By Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Chris Gallagher)