Martin wins Army contract worth $1 billion

April 06, 1991|By Ted Shelsby

Martin Marietta Corp. picked up a new contract valued at more than $1 billion yesterday when the Army selected a corporate team to build its new light attack helicopter.

Martin was included in a team headed by Boeing Vertol, a unit of the Boeing Co., and Sikorsky Aircraft, owned by United Technologies Corp. The group was selected to build the next generation of attack helicopters for the Army, a program that could exceed $33 billion over the next 15 years.

Martin's role is to provide the night-navigation and target-detection system for the helicopter, the Army's most expensive new weapons system.

The new attack helicopter is being developed as a replacement for the Cobra and Apache attack helicopters that were widely used in the Persian Gulf war. The Army plans to buy 1,292 of the new helicopters through the year 2006.

The Martin system incorporates advanced infrared technology to produce higher-resolution, television-like images of targets at ranges greater than now possible.

Among Army requirements for the light helicopter is the ability to fire its weapons from greater ranges, which should keep the crew and aircraft safer.

Martin said the system is the latest version of navigation and targeting technology originally developed in the Apache helicopter. Nearly 700 of the night-vision systems have been delivered to the Army.

The first flight of the new craft is scheduled for 1993, with production starting in 1996.

The bulk of work on Martin's contribution to the new craft will be performed at its Electronic Systems Division in Orlando, Fla. The company estimates that about 300 people will be involved in the program during the development stage.

The Boeing-Sikorsky team, which included Martin Marietta, was competing with another team composed of McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. of Mesa, Ariz., and Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas.

The Army announced the contract award after the stock market closed.

Martin stock, which is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $55, down $1.75 for the day.

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