Pentagon Reports $500 Million in Possible Helicopter Sales

 - May 16, 2017, 5:01 PM
Kenya is likely to receive 12 MD 530F armed light helicopters to help fight insurgents in neighbouring Somalia. (MD Helicopters)

Possible exports of U.S. helicopters worth nearly $500 million for defense purposes have been revealed in recent weeks. The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that Kenya might buy 12 MD530Fs; Slovakia might buy nine Bell 429s; and Greece five CH-47D Chinooks. These are all Foreign Military Sales (FMS) packages that include weapons and support. 

The MD530F Cayuse Warriors for Kenya would be supplied by MD Helicopters in a package worth $253 million. They would each be equipped with twin M260 rocket launchers made by Arnold Defense, and twin HMP400 heavy machine gun pods made by FN. More than 5,500 rockets would also form part of the sale. The DSCA noted that Kenya is undertaking critical operations against al-Shabaab, a jihadist terrorist group that has in the past controlled much of neighbouring Somalia. The new helicopters would replace Kenya’s aging fleet of MD500, the DSCA said.  

The Bell 429s for Slovakia would include “customer-unique modifications” in a package worth $150 million. They would be equipped with L-3 Wescam MX-10 cameras. Bell Helicopters has achieved steady sales of these light twin helicopters for parapublic duties since the type was certified in 2009.

The CH-47Ds for Greece will be taken from the U.S. Army inventory. The package is worth an estimated $80 million including BAE Systems Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS). The Hellenic Army already operates Chinooks in two squadrons. 

The FMS to Kenya would be the second this year. In January, the DSCA reported the possible supply of up to 12 weaponized Air Tractor AT-802L light aircraft, plus two AT-504 trainer aircraft, in a sale worth $418 million. L-3 Communications would be the integrator and therefore the prime contractor, unlike previous exports of these large single-turboprop aircraft, which have been supplied by Iomax.