Bell will offer militarized versions of all its civil aircraft models beginning with the 407GXi. Bell made the announcement this week at this year’s Army Aviation Association of America Mission Solutions Summit, where the manufacturer publicly unveiled the 407M—part of its Special Mission Aircraft initiative to offer multi-mission civil helicopters modified for military use.
These aircraft are tailored to the needs of the export market and will gain an "M" suffix after their model number starting with the 407 and expanding to Bell’s other civil models, including the 412, 429, and 505. They can be fitted with a range of armaments and equipment to carry out armed reconnaissance, special operations, light-attack, anti-piracy, medical evacuation, combat search and rescue, and humanitarian aid disaster relief missions. Various levels of capability are available through the U.S. government’s foreign military sales program or direct commercial sales, depending on country requirements, Bell indicated.
"Many of the military operating environments around the world require an option in-between pure military and commercial platforms, and special mission aircraft can support that flexibility," said Brian Vollmer, Bell special mission aircraft program manager. "When you look at the market of fielded systems and how current sanctions may limit parts availability, there is a need for affected countries to act quickly to avoid a capability gap when parts are no longer available for their existing platforms.”