The U.S. Navy on Tuesday awarded Textron Inc.'s (TXT) Bell Helicopter unit and Boeing Co. (BA) a $1 billion contract to buy components for 16 V-22 tiltrotor aircraft through September 2009.

The Navy said the contract would pay for long lead components associated with the manufacture and delivery of 14 fiscal 2007 Lot 11 Marine Corps version of the plane, also known as the MV-22, and 2 fiscal 2007 Lot 11 Air Force versions, also known as the CV-22.

The Pentagon in September decided to accelerate production of the V-22, or Osprey, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like a plane.

Bell and Boeing have a 50-50 joint venture to build the aircraft for the Marine Corps and the Air Force to replace the Navy's aging workhorse CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter.

It can fly twice as fast at more than twice the altitude, with three times the payload and six times the range.

Work would be completed by September 2009, the Navy said.