The US State Department approves a $300 million Bell Helicopter support package for Iraq, marking a step towards security

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Iraq of Bell Helicopter Contracted Logistics Support (CLS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million. The Government of Iraq has requested to buy additional services, as indicated below, that will be added to a previously implemented case whose value was under the congressional notification threshold. The original FMS case, valued at $28 million, included a Bell Contracted Logistics Support (CLS) and Field Service Representative (FSR) contract. This notification is for the combined CLS and FSR maintenance support for the following Bell aircraft: three (3) 407 variants, 206B3, OH-58A/C Kiowa, Huey II and 505. Also included is U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; studies and surveys; and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total cost is $300 million.

The proposed sale will improve the Republic of Iraq’s capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing the strength of its homeland defense. The Republic of Iraq will have no difficulty absorbing these services into its armed forces. The principal contractor will be Bell Helicopter Company, Fort Worth, TX. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of four (4) additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Iraq for a duration of one (1) year to support CLS for Bell 505 aircraft. There are currently seven (7) U.S. Government or contractor representatives in Iraq that will stay an additional two (2) years to provide support for the contract option years for CLS and FSR service support for the three (3) 407 variants, 206B3, OH-58A/C and Huey II aircraft. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The Bell 206 is a family of two-bladed, single- and twin-engined helicopters, manufactured by Bell Helicopter at its Mirabel, Quebec, plant. Originally developed as the Bell YOH-4 for the United States Army’s Light Observation Helicopter program, it was not selected by the Army. The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter. A derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, the 407 uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with composite hub developed for the United States Army’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior instead of the two-blade, semi-rigid, teetering rotor of the 206L-4. In 2009 the Iraqi Air Force ordered three Bell 407 armed scout helicopters. There are 30 in service; 24 armed scouts, three gunships, and three trainers. A contract for 24 additional Bell 407s with an option for 26 more was awarded in April of that same year. . Bell redesigned the airframe and successfully marketed the aircraft commercially as the five-place Bell 206A JetRanger. The Bell 505 Jet Ranger X (JRX) is an light helicopter with a “clean sheet” design, but uses some dynamic components, such as the rotor system, of the Bell 206L-4.

The Bell OH-58 Kiowa is a family of single-engine single-rotor military helicopters used for observation, utility, and direct fire support. It is closely related to the Model 206A JetRanger civilian helicopter. The OH-58 was primarily produced for the United States Army. Only two months after the type’s entry to service, it was first deployed into the Vietnam War.

The US Army would make extensive use of various OH-58 models across numerous war zones over the decades, seeing active combat during the Gulf War, the Invasion of Panama, and the War in Afghanistan among others. Bell Huey II is a modified and re-engined UH-1H, significantly upgrading its performance, and its cost-effectiveness. Currently offered by Bell to all current military users of the type. The Bell UH-1 Iroquois military helicopter, first introduced in 1959, is the first production member of the prolific Huey family of helicopters, and was itself developed in over twenty variants.

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