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Iraqi army planning to buy Bell helicopters to replace Russian models

An Iraqi Army Bell IA-407 helicopter flies over northern Iraq in November 2016. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Iraqi Army Aviation Command (IAAC) is planning to replace its Russian helicopters with US-made types, according to the latest quarterly report on Operation ‘Inherent Resolve' released by the US Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General (OIG) on 7 February.

It said the Iraqi Ministry of Defence (MoD) has submitted Foreign Military Sales (FMS) requests for 16 Bell 412M and four Bell 412EPX medium-lift helicopters to replace the IAAC's Russian-made Mi-17s, 15 new Bell 407Ms to replace existing 407s in the light-attack role, and 15 new Bell 505 helicopters to replace the 407s and OH-58s currently used as trainers.

It did not identify a direct replacement for the Russian Mi-28NE and Mi-35M attack helicopters but noted that the IAAC is also in the process of requesting an estimate for the cost and availability of an unspecified number of additional 407Ms. Russian sources have reported that Iraq ordered 15 Mi-28NE and 28 Mi-35M helicopters.

Launched by Bell last year, the 407M and 412M are the latest militarised versions of the company's successful helicopter models. Both have fully digital cockpits and TekFusion mission and weapons managements systems that enable them to be armed with laser-guided missiles in conjunction with an electro-optical system. The more powerful 412EPX model was developed with Subaru for the Japanese military.

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