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Monday, March 7, 2011

Bell 407 Comes With Choices - Garmin...or Weapons

Bell Helicopter has introduced two new versions of its popular Model 407 light turbine single at Heli-Expo - and not just shown viewgraphs and artists' concepts, but brought the certified and qualified helicopters on to the show floor.

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Bell 407AH. (All images Bell Helicopter)

One is the 407AH armed helicopter, intended for export "law-enforcement and paramilitary" (border patrol, etc) customers that do not want to buy a full-integrated armed helicopter through the US military procurement system. "This is an ITAR-free helicopter," says CEO John Garrison, referring to the rules that govern exports of US military technology. 

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407AH cockpit (Garmin G500H on right, FLIR on left)

The 407AH can carry a 7.62 minigun and 2.75in rocket pod, but retains the ability of carry passengers in the cabin. The helicopter is equipped with a nose-mounted FLIR sensor as well as self-protection systems. The cost, under $5 million, is substantially less than for an armed helicopter with an integrated weapon system. Bell says it has a "substantial" launch customer (and it's not Iraq). This video shows weapon firing trials in Yuma.

The other new version is the commercial 407GX, equipped with Garmin's new G1000H integrated helicopter flightdeck. This features two 10.4in flat-panel screens and includes synthetic-vision primary flight display, terrain awareness warning, 3D traffic display, airport moving map, ADS-B capability, datalink weather and 3D audio. The system records aircraft parameters to an SD card for flight operations quality assurance.

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407GX cockpit

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