BELL HELICOPTER Textron Inc was awarded an initial $210.75 million system development and demonstration contract on July 29 for the US Army’s next generation Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARID, which will replace the Army’s current fleet of OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
Bell ARH is a militarized version of the commercial Bell 407, which can be equipped with a wide variety of weapons. ARH mission versatility will enable armed reconnaissance, light attack, troop insertion and special operations missions to be accomplished with a single helicopter type. Although it has two crew-stations, it will be capable of single-pilot operation, and its standard armed reconnaissance configuration will include the sensor assembly, active and passive countermeasures, external weapons systems and a communications suite.
Eventual requirement is for a total of 368 ARIIs, to be delivered between Fiscal Years 2006 and 2013, in a programme expected eventually to be worth over $5 billion. The basic ARH airframe will be built at Bell’s Mirabel plant near Montreal, Canada, with rotors, transmission and other dynamic components manufactured at Fort Worth, a final assembly location has yet to be decided.