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The ARH-70 Arapaho armed reconnaissance helicopter is a militarized version of civilian model

During the last decade or so the US Army was looking for a replacement for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter. It becomes increasingly harder to upgrade worn-out airframes of this helicopter due to their age. Newly-built airframes are required. The first attempt was to replace the OH-58D it with the RAH-66 Comanche.

However its development programme was cancelled in 2004. The US Army issued requirement for a new reconnaissance helicopter. The Boeing proposed a variant of the OH-6. Bell proposed a militarized version of the Bell 407, the 407MRH. In 2005 Bell was selected as a winner. US Army ordered a total of 368 helicopters, designated the ARH-70 Arapaho.

The ARH-70, or Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, is named after a Native American tribe. It is in line with the US Army’s tradition of giving its helicopters Indian names. It is a standard commercial Bell 407GH helicopter, fitted with state-of-the-art sensors, electronic avionics, and ωɛλρσɳ systems. The Arapaho is fitted with FLIR sensor beneath the nose. Pilots use an electronic mission management system. The helicopter is fitted with electronic ωλɾʄλɾɛ suite, including active and passive countermeasures.

The ARH-70 Arapaho can perform various missions, such as reconnaissance, scouting, observation and light attack. It is also capable of insertion operations. It can carry 6 passengers or light cargo. This helicopter has a payload capacity of 847 kg. It can operate at day, night, or in adverse weather conditions with poor visibility.

The ARH-70 helicopter has up to four hardpionts for various ωɛλρσɳs to suite specific mission requirements. It can carry pods with GAU-19 Gatling guns, pods with Hydra 70 or FAR air-to-ground unoperated rockets, AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank guided missiles.

This helicopter has a single engine. However engine of the civilian Bell 407 has been replaced by a more powerful Honeywell HTS900, developing 968 shp. This helicopter is highly maneuverable. Performance of this helicopter varies depending on the ωɛλρσɳ load.

Two Arapaho reconnaissance helicopters can be airlifted by a C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft. Once on the ground these are ready to fly in 15 minutes.

However in 2007 the US Army stopped funding the ARH-70 Arapaho development. The programme was finaly terminated in 2008 due to cost overruns and delays. At that point 4 prototypes were built. The Arapaho costs about $ 14.5 million. However it is not that much comparing with the $80 million price for the Apache attack helicopter.

An essentially similar 407AH helicopter was proposed for export customers. In 2009 the US MoD ordered 24 of these helicopters for the Iraqi Air Force. The Bell 407AH was also selected by United Arab Emirates. A total of 30 helicopters were ordered. It seems that deliveries commenced in 2014. Deliveries are planned to be completed in 2016.

With the termination of the ARH-70 another Armed Aerial Scout programme was launched in order to replace the ageing fleet of Kiowa Warrior helicopters. However the future of this programme is uncertain due to limited funding. So is it planned that the OH-58D helicopters will be upgraded to the OH-58F standard to keep them operational. The upgraded OH-58F are planned to remain in service with the US forces until 2036. Some of the Kiowa Warriors might be retired without replacement.


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