As countries look to take more prominent stances in defense, finding the best combination of capability and cost has created a market for civil helicopters modified for multi-mission military capabilities. These needs are amplified by growing international instability and require ready now solutions with proven track records. Bell is leveraging its experience across civil, para-public, and military helicopter domains to meet this demand with the special missions aircraft, SMA, initiative.
“Bell’s military portfolio, between the Viper, Venom, Osprey, and now the Valor, is one of the most versatile on the market, and civil modified aircraft offer an in-between option between pure military and commercial platforms that provide more options,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell vice president and H-1/SMA program director.
Bell’s SMA aircraft are identified with the moniker “M” following the model number. The 407M, which shares a DNA and history with Bells OH-58 light attack and reconnaissance aircraft, made its public debut in a six-station configuration at the Army Aviation Association of America Mission Solutions Summit in May. This setup showcased the different weapon setups the aircraft could use for a variety of missions.
Bell special missions aircraft also have the ability to changeout setups for different missions. The 407M can be reconfigured from light attack and reconnaissance to support non-combat missions like medical evacuation or search and rescue.
In addition to versatile and reconfigurable aircraft, Bell aims to leverage its top-rated and globally established support system to ensure aircraft reliability.
“If you don’t have parts for helicopter maintenance, that cuts off your ability to conduct critical missions,” said Brian Vollmer, special mission aircraft program manager. “Continuous and immediate parts and support make the difference in the ability to leverage helicopters in missions where seconds can make a difference.”
Down the line, Bell is working to expand this offering across other civil aircraft to leveraging their unique designs and capabilities. As seen at Paris Airshow, the Bell 505 was configured as a military trainer and shares the same glass cockpit avionics as the 407M, allowing for ease of transition from training to performance. The Bell 429 was also configured as a state-of-the art law enforcement demonstrator and features the best tail rotor authority in its class. Drawing from a 50-year lineage dating back to the iconic Huey, the Bell 412 integrates next-generation upgrades into a proven platform. More than 100 para-public and para-military operators currently leverage the world-renowned workhorse for utility, reconnaissance and community protection missions.
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We are pioneers. We were the first to break the sound barrier and to certify a commercial helicopter. We were a part of NASA’s first lunar mission and brought advanced tiltrotor systems to market. Today, we’re defining the future of advanced air mobility.
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Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell, Cessna, Beechcraft, Pipistrel, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Arctic Cat, and Textron Systems. For more information, visit: www.textron.com.
Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking statements which may project revenues or describe strategies, goals, outlook or other non-historical matters; these statements speak only as of the date on which they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, changes in aircraft delivery schedules or cancellations or deferrals of orders; our ability to keep pace with our competitors in the introduction of new products and upgrades with features and technologies desired by our customers; changes in government regulations or policies on the export and import of our products; volatility in the global economy or changes in worldwide political conditions that adversely impact demand for our products; volatility in interest rates or foreign exchange rates; and risks related to our international business, including establishing and maintaining facilities in locations around the world and relying on joint venture partners, subcontractors, suppliers, representatives, consultants and other business partners in connection with international business, including in emerging market countries.
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