Bell Helicopter on 6 March formally launched at Heli-Expo 2011 an armed version of the civil 407 for the law enforcement and homeland security market.
Although armed 407s have been previously ordered by the Iraqi Air Force, the new 407AH marks the first time that Bell has offered a certified type for the commercial market.
By contrast, for Iraq, Bell is supplying 30 407s in civil configuration, which are modified by the US Army with weapons and sensors for the Iraqi Air Force mission.
© Bell Helicopter
The 407AH instead will come equipped from Bell's factory with two weapons -- the Dillon 7.62mm M134T minigun and M260 2.75in seven-shot rocket launcher - and optional features including chaff and flare countermeasures, sliding doors, cargo hook and seat armour.
"It will meet the needs of a variety of parapublic agencies at a cost that is far less than that of a similarly equipped military aircraft - but with increased lethality," says Larry Roberts, senior vice president of Bell's commercial business.
The 407AH marks the latest attempt by Bell to establish an armed version of the light single-engine airframe. The US Army selected a heavily modified 407 to become the ARH-70 Arapaho armed reconnaissance helicopter, but cancelled the contract in 2008.
Meanwhile, Bell is supplying 407s to Northrop Grumman for conversion to the unmanned Fire-X systems, which is being offered to the US Navy as an unmanned cargo and surveillance system based on ships.