The US Army has awarded Bell Helicopter a $7 million deal to supply three Bell Helicopter 407 helicopters on behalf of the Iraqi Air Force.

The “urgently” awarded contract will allow the US Army to prove that it can modify the commercial helicopters into armed scout helicopters, a spokeswoman for the Army Aviation and Missile Command tells

 Bell ARH
 ©Bell Helicopter

After the first three aircraft are modified, the US army plans to buy another 24 armed Bell 407s on behalf of the Iraqi military, with the first helicopter scheduled for delivery in late-2010.

In late 2008, Iraq decided to purchase 24 Bell 407s armed with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, 2.75-inch rockets, and machine guns. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency in July described the proposed sale as supporting the Iraqi air force to “sustain itself in its efforts to bring stability to Iraq”.

Iraq selected the Bell 407 over the Boeing AH-6 Little Bird despite the army’s decision in October to terminate the ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) contract, which was also based on a modified 407 airframe.