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.
Iraq’s Army wants to replace its fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 Hip armed transport helicopters and Mi-28NE/Mi-35M helicopters with a mixture of Bell 412EPXs and Bell 412Ms produced in the United States. The significantly reduced availability of Mi-17 spare parts due to Russia’s own needs due to its war on Ukraine has been a major factor in these plans. The Iraqi Army’s aviation arm is also looking to acquire a variety of other helicopters from Bell. This company just recently said publicly that it is trying to take advantage of new market opportunities created by the conflict in Ukraine.
It did identify a direct replacement for the Russian Mi-28NE and Mi-35M attack helicopters. Still, it noted that the IAAC is 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 management systems that enable them to be armed with laser-guided missiles and an electro-optical system. The more powerful 412EPX model was developed with Subaru for the Japanese military.
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