NorthStar Aviation is now working on an MRH (Multi-Role Helicopter) version of the Bell 429, having already undertaken a successful modification programme for the single-engined Bell 407GXP.
The resulting 407MRH has been acquired by the UAE Armed Forces, and an example wearing Joint Aviation Command markings is on display on NorthStar’s exhibit (Stand 03-C34). The UAE’s order covered 30 aircraft converted to full MRH specification, plus 15 further 407s with partial modifications for operation by the Horizon Flight Academy at Al Ain.
NorthStar’s MRH conversion, conducted with the support of the OEM (Bell), adds a full military mission systems package, including Falcon- View moving map with mission planning capability. Lightweight cockpit armour is installed, while the cockpit itself has been redesigned.
The 407MRH has a FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE 260-HLD electro-optic turret, and an integrated weapons management system supports the firing of a range of weapons, including AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, laser-guided rockets and podded gun systems. Alternative systems can be integrated to meet specific customer requirements.
While the 407MRH itself has generated significant interest, notably in the Middle East and Africa region, potential customers have expressed a desire for a twin-engined helicopter offering similar mission capabilities. To that end, NorthStar has studied a number of candidates before settling on the Bell Model 429 for its next project.