By Bijan Razzaghi
Iraq is likely to purchase an additional 5 Bell 407GX armed scout light attack helicopters from Bell Flight worth $82 million. The aircraft will include 5 M260 rocket launchers capable of employing the APKWS system 5 GAU-19 .50 cal machine guns as well as additional support systems such as the ARES weapons management system and MCAS night vision compatible cockpit lighting system. The aircraft will enter service with Iraq’s Army Aviation units working alongside existing Bell 407GXs and Mi-28 attack helicopters.
The Bell 407GX provides Iraq’s army aviation units with a light mobile helicopter that operates as a point man ahead of the larger heavier Mi-28s and Mi-35 gunships. The Bell 407GX also provides air support for Special Operations Forces being able to suppress ground threats while remaining fast and mobile.
The Bell 407GXs will primarily engage in counter insurgency operations against infantry and light vehicles. The APKWS and GAU-9 are ideal for engaging light vehicles and mortar teams in dense urban areas where the larger Mi-28s AT-16s cannot due to the increased risk of collateral damage. Light Bell 407GXs also make hard targets for insurgent small arms fire.
The delivery of the Bell 407GXs are expected to be completed sometime in 2019 joining 25 other Bell 407s and 8 OH-58Cs.