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US approves sale of 5 armed Bell 407GX helicopters to Iraq

New helicopters will compensate for Iraq's losses during operations against ISIS

The U.S. State Department approved the sale to Iraq of five armed Bell 407GX light attack helicopters for the Iraqi Security Forces, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.

New helicopters will help compensate for the ISF’s combat loss of seven 407 helicopters and increase their combat effectiveness against Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Iraq, DSCA said in a Thursday, October 4 release.

Bell 407GX helicopters are an upgraded variant of the Bell 407 civil utility helicopters. Iraq’s will be configured with M240 7.62mm machine guns and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) M260 rocket launchers.

Iraq Bell 407 helicopters
Iraqi Army Aviation Command, Squadron 21, Bell-407 helicopters fly at Taji Air Base, Iraq, July 14, 2011. Image: Staff Sgt. Mike Meares/US Air Force

The Iraqi Air Force has used APKWS II laser-guided rockets against ISIS since December 2016. The BAE Systems-developed system is a design conversion for Hydra 70 unguided rockets turning them into precision-guided munitions with a low yield to help avoid collateral damage.

Included in the Iraqi government request are M3P .50 Caliber Machine Guns, GAU-19 .50 Caliber Machine Guns, Pathfinder Mission Management Systems, night vision compatible lighting systems, armor kits, secure communication radios, and other equipment and support services.

The estimated program cost is $82.5 million.

Iraq’s air force received its first 407 variants, designated IA-407, in 2012. The proposed 407GX helicopters will be an upgraded variant, DSCA said. Bell’s armed 407GX helicopters are designated 407GT.

In July 2017, Bell Helicopter was awarded a $22 million modification to a previous $500 million U.S. foreign military sales contract to add additional 407GX helicopters to Iraq’s fleet, along with spare parts to repair damaged aircraft, and contractor support.

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