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  • Bell, Boeing to contest Iraq's armed helicopter deal

Bell, Boeing to contest Iraq's armed helicopter deal

Efforts to develop the new Iraqi air force have gained momentum, with the nation's government now seeking the purchase of 24 armed helicopters from the USA.

Two candidates are under consideration: a military derivative of the Bell Helicopter 407 (below) and Boeing's AH-6 Little Bird (bottom), according to a notice issued by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

© Bell Helicopter

© Boeing

To form part of a wider armaments package worth a potential $2.4 billion, the proposed deal would also acquire 200 Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and 15,000 2.75in rockets for the aircraft, plus .50 cal machine guns and M134 miniguns, the DSCA says.

"These helicopters and missiles will be used to develop new Iraqi air force squadrons and/or wings, and enhance the ability to sustain itself," according to its notification to Congress.

Although the helicopter selection has yet to be finalised, Rolls-Royce appears likely to benefit from the possible deal, with its Model 250 engine the only powerplant listed in the DSCA's notice.

Bell's 407 is the basis for the US Army's ARH-70A armed reconnaissance helicopter programme, although Boeing is eyeing a potential opportunity to overturn the troubled deal with its armed Little Bird.

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