The 407MRH is a new military derivative of the Bell 407 developed by Abu Dhabi-based NorthStar Aviation, which is already fulfilling an order for 30 of the helicopters from the UAE armed forces.
Approximately 20 have now been delivered with the remainder will arriving one per month through to the end of 2016.
The 407MRH is based on the improved Bell 407GX, which already features the Garmin G1000HTM flight deck, with dual VHF and GPS, and Garmin’s synthetic vision system. NorthStar has added an armoured cockpit and cabin, as well as a suite of weapons, avionics systems and sensors, turning the aircraft into a low-cost, lightweight multi-role military helicopter that is capable of undertaking light attack, close air support (CAS), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and light assault missions.
The 407MRH’s integrated weapons management system is able to support a range of weapons, which are carried on a modular lightweight weapons platform with up to four stations.
The aircraft has a new mission management system, with features such as an integrated moving map, embedded inertial/GPS and integrated tactical multi-band radios.
A FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE 260-HLD is turret-mounted below the nose. This incorporates a stabilised electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, an HD colour day camera, a mid-wave imaging infrared sensor, a solid-state lowlight imaging system, a laser designator and tactical laser rangefinder, an eye-safe laser rangefinder, and a near-infrared laser illuminator visible to NVG.
The company has received expressions of interest from potential customers in the Middle East, Europe and South America.
“Not everybody has $80 million to buy an Apache,” said Adam Gunn, the company’s technical director, pointing out that a customer could buy eight or nine NorthStar Aviation 407MRHs for the price of a single AH-64.
Though the NorthStar 407MRH prototype was shown at Abu Dhabi’s IDEX exhibition in February 2015, this is the first time an operational production model UAE armed forces 407MRH has been displayed.