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Bell ARH-70

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Bell ARH-70
An early development ARH-70
Type Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter Textron
Status Under Development
Primary user United States Army
Developed from Bell 407
Variants Bell 417

The Bell ARH-70 is a U.S. Army Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH), with a crew of 2 and optimized for urban combat. Currently in development, it will replace the Army's aging OH-58D Kiowa Warrior recon helicopters. It takes over part of the mission that the abandoned RAH-66 Comanche would have been responsible for. It is built with off-the-shelf technology and is based on the Bell 407, itself based on the Bell 206 from which the OH-58 was developed.


By 2004, the U.S. Army had lost more than 30 of its 368 OH-58Ds through accidents and combat losses, many in Iraq. With the Comanche cancelled and the OH-58D built on an aging Vietnam-era airframe, Army officials issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the ARH on December 9, [1]. In an attempt to avoid the protracted development and high cost of the Comanche, the ARH was to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and reach operational status in four years. The goal: to have an operational unit of 30 helicopters and eight trainers ready by September 2008.

Two companies submitted bids:

  • Boeing proposed the upgraded version of the MH-6 Little Bird, the MH-6M Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB). Because the aircraft was already in service with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, it became the predictive favorite despite doubts that MD Helicopters Inc. (MDHI) could ramp up production to meet the contract's demands. To alleviate this concern, Boeing offered itself as the prime contractor with MDHI as a very critical subcontractor.
  • Bell Helicopter Textron proposed an update of the OH-58D concept in a militarized version of the Bell 407, using a more powerful Honeywell HTS900 turbine engine and the Bell 427 tail assembly. This would allow the Army to use its existing OH-58 supply chain, a major consideration.

On July 29, 2005, Bell won a contract for 368 helicopters.

Specifications (Bell 407)

General characteristics

  • Crew: two pilots
  • Capacity: six passengers
  • Length (with main rotor): 41 ft 8 in (12.70 m)
  • Main rotor diameter: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
  • Main rotor area: 962 ft² (89 m²)
  • Empty: 2,598 lb (1,178 kg)
  • Loaded: 5,000 lb (2,268 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 5,000 lb (2,268 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1x Allison 250-C47 turboshaft, 700 shp (520 kW)


  • Maximum speed at Sea Level: 237km/h (140kt)
  • Maximum speed at 4,000 feet: 243km/h (131kt)
  • Range: 360 miles (577 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,690 ft (5,698 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min ( m/min)
  • Main rotor loading: lb/ft² ( kg/m²)
  • Power/Mass: hp/lb ( kW/kg)

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