Bell Textron Wins $2.2B ARH Competition With 407 Variant
Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. of Fort Worth, TX received a $210.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the system development and demonstration (SDD) of the U.S. Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) program, including sub-system integration and testing as well as training-device development (W58RGZ-05-C-0234). Work on the Bell LRH SDD contract will be performed at Fort Worth, TX and is estimated to be complete on Sept. 30, 2008. There were 11 bids solicited on Dec. 8, 2004, and two bids were received. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL issued the contract.
The ARH-70 Armed Reconaissance Helicopter is a program by the United States Army to replace around 375 Bell Textron OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters (first fielded in 1985), and fill the role initially proposed for the RAH-66 Comanche (cancelled in 2004). Bell Helicopter Textron won the competition, and the contract calls for 368 ARH aircraft during FY 2006 through FY 2013, at a unit cost of approximately $6 million per vs. the much more advanced Comanche’s estimated $36 million unit cost…
The ARH Program Winner: Bell’s 407
For additional information regarding the ARH program and the ARH-70 Helciopter, see DID’s updated FOCUS Article:
The Bell 407 variant’s main rival in the ARH competition was a highly modified version of the commercial MD 530 light helicopter made by MDHI. On 05 February 2005, two days before submitting a bid for the ARH, Boeing signed an agreement to make a multimillion-dollar cash investment in ailing manufacturer MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI). Boeing proposed upgrading the AH-6J/ MH-6J Mission Enhancement Little Bird (MELB) platform. It would be similar to the aircraft already in service with the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), but feature a rearranged cabin, a four-blade ‘scissor’ tail-rotor configuration and a new mission avionics fit. Boeing would be the prime contractor, performing integration at its AH-64D Longbow Apache plant which is located adjacent to MDHI’s Mesa, AZ plant.
This bid was defeated. Nevertheless, MDHI received further stabilization in early July 2005 via acquisition by Patriarch Partners, LLC in New York; as noted in DID’s coverage, the firm also plans to compete for the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program with a variant of its MD 900 Explorer [DID Update: MDHI lost to a surprise contender - Eurocopter's EC145/UH-145].
See DID’s ARH-70 Program Focus Article for more, including updated coverage and program contracts…
Additional Readings & Sources
- Bell Helicopter Textron Corporate Release
- GlobalSecurity.org – Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH)
- Bell ARH Corporate Product Data Sheet [PDF format]
- Army-Technology.com – OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Reconnaissance / Attack Helicopter, USA
- GlobalSecurity.org – RAH-66 Comanche
- Army-Technology.com – RAH-66 Comanche – Reconnaissance/Attack Helicopter, USA
- SpecialOperations.com – AH/MH6-J Little Bird
- GlobalSecurity.org – Light Utility Helicopter (LUH)
- DID (July 29, 2005) – MD Helicopter Recapitalizes, Prepares for LUH Competition
- DID (June 20, 2005) – Eurocopter & Bell Battling for $500-600M Indian Army Contract
- Asia Pacific Aviation News – Bell Helicopter offers the Texas-built Bell ARH