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BAE says no plans to challenge decision on F-35 helmet

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Britain's BAE Systems Plc (BA.TO) said on Friday it had no plans to challenge a decision by the Pentagon to halt work on an alternate pilot helmet the company was developing for the Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT) F-35 fighter jet.

The Pentagon on Thursday said it would now focus exclusively on the primary F-35 helmet being developed jointly by Rockwell Collins Inc (COL) and Israel's Elbit Systems Ltd (ESLT.TA), a move it said would save around $45 million.

"Because we were always viewed as a risk mitigation alternative for the F-35 helmet program, we do not have plans to challenge this decision," said Liz Ryan Sax, a spokeswoman for the U.S. unit of BAE Systems.

The company said it was disappointed by the decision and remained convinced that it had developed "a best-in-class visor-projected helmet-mounted display that is ready to provide superior capabilities to an attack jet platform."

"We've proven we can deliver a capable, affordable product in record time," she said. "We'll be ready at any time should they change their mind on the helmet." She said BAE had hit every milestone set for the alternate helmet program.

Lockheed spokeswoman Laura Siebert on Thursday said the company had spent about $57 million on the second helmet to date, with total investment slated to reach $104 million.

A Pentagon spokesman said Lockheed and BAE were negotiating the terms of stopping the program.

BAE remains a key supplier to Lockheed for the F-35's electronic warfare capabilities, the vehicle management computer and other components.

The Pentagon's F-35 program office said it decided to stop work on the BAE helmet given improvements to the Rockwell-Elbit helmet, including a better night vision camera, new liquid-crystal displays, automated alignment and better software.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Carol Bishopric)