Bell Helicopter hopes to secure a contract in the coming months with Austria for its 407GT, as part of a wider international sales drive for the civil derived light attack and armed reconnaissance platform, a senior official said on 11 May.
Speaking to reporters at the site of the company’s Prague facility in the Czech Republic, Jakub Hoda, managing director for Europe and Russia, said that the Austrian Air Force’s requirement to replace its ageing light utility helicopter fleet represents the most promising near-term opportunity for Bell’s newly introduced 407GT.
“The 407GT is already in service with a Middle Eastern and a South American customer, and we are pushing the aircraft across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe also. Austria has a requirement [that could be satisfied by the 407GT], and we would hope to have a decision by the end of the year.”
For Austria, a 407GT procurement would enable the air force to retire its ageing Aerospatiale Alouette III and Bell OH-58B Kiowa helicopters. According to an IHS Jane’s source, the government has drawn up its capabilities requirement for a light utility helicopter (LUH) replacement programme, and a request for information (RfI) is expected to be issued shortly. Between 12 and 14 platforms are likely to be procured, with a type selection to be made later this year.
The LUH programme is part of a wider fleet recapitalisation process that is set to include the replacement of the ageing Saab 105 jet trainer aircraft with a modern type; and upgrades of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and Agusta-Bell AB212 helicopter fleets. It has also been suggested that Austria might be looking to replace its Eurofighter Typhoons with another aircraft type for budgetary reasons.
First revealed in March 2013, the 407GT is derived from the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior in service with the US Army.
Bell 407GT light tactical utility helicopter
The Bell 407GT is a light tactical and utility helicopter designed and manufactured by the American aviation Company Bell Helicopter Textron. The Bell 407GT offers superb value by combining superior payload and range capabilities with Bell Helicopter’s industry leading commercial training and product support. In March 2013, Bell Helicopter introduced at HELI-EXPO 2013 the new Bell 407GT, the armed version of the Bell 407GX, its state-of-the-art light commercial helicopter.
Bell 407GT Cockpit
Avionics and equipment
The Bell 407GT includes the Garmin G1000H™ flight deck with twin 10.4″ high resolution LCD screens, hosting advanced integrated cockpit and multi-function display information in an easy to scan layout.
Garmin G1000H™ flight deck
The aircraft also features a night vision-compatible instrument panel and superior long-range reconnaissance and laser designation capabilities, with options including the Wescam MX-15DI and the FLIR Systems 230-HD. High-visibility windows and doors, sliding on both sides for rapid ingress and egress, also enhance situational awareness. A suite of aircraft survivability equipment is available to further enhance safety.
The Bell 407GT is powered by a more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft allows an increase in Maximum Takeoff Weight and improves performance at hotter temperatures and/or higher altitudes.
Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft
The Bell 407 features the four-blade main rotor developed for the OH-58D (Model 406). The blades and hub use composite construction without life limits, and provide better performance and a more comfortable ride.
The Bell 407GT features a highly flexible and configurable weapons system for tactical operations, including infrared camera system with laser designation capability, weapons management system, universal weapons pylon (UWP), tactical radio suite and aircraft survivability equipment.
Universal weapons pylon (UWP)
The UWP, derived from the battle-tested Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, provides a stable platform for precise delivery of ordnance and can be quickly reconfigured for machine guns or rockets. The pylon can also be easily removed to meet multiple mission requirements such as search and rescue or medical evacuation. Light munitions capabilities of the 407GT include Dillon M13D Mini-guns, .50 caliber machine guns or 2.75 in. rockets, as well as laser-guided weapons featuring a standoff range of more than 5,000 m. The Bell 407GT can be also equipped with the BAE Systems’ advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS). APKWS is a semi-active laser guided 2.75in version of the existing Hydra 70 unguided rocket system and consists of BAE-built mid-body guidance unit (WGU-59/B). A variety of optional kits, designed to meet the needs of any tactical mission, will be available for the Bell 407GT with export compliance approval as required. Kits include: AGM-114 Hellfire®, General Dynamics GAU-19/B .50 caliber machine gun, HMP-400 machine gun pod, M260 2.75 in. 7-tube rocket launcher, Advance Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS), LifePort Armor Protection System and more.
|Light tactical utility helicopter|
|El Salvador, Iraq, Jamaica, United Arab Emirates * wikipedia.org|
|1 pilot + 6 passengersa|
|1 × Allison 250-C47B turboshaft, 813 shp (606 kW)|
|260 km/h maximum|
|598 km maximum|
|1,210 kg empty|
|Garmin G1000H™ flight deck with twin 10.4″ high resolution LCD screens|
|Length: 12.7 m; Rotor diameter: 10.67 m;
Height: 3.56 m