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Fri, Jul 21, 2006

ARH-70A Makes Its First Flight

One MEAN Helo...

At the Farnborough International Air Show this week, Bell Helicopter announced its ARH-70A helicopter completed its first two flights Thursday, July 20, 2006. The aircraft took off from Bell XworX in Arlington, TX and flew multiple handling maneuvers, flew in a hover for both in and out of ground effect, and flew in a traffic pattern reaching 80 knots, 500 ft. altitude, with banks up to 30 degrees for a little more than 1.5 hours of flight.

Bell says the flights support the ARH program as one of the fastest 'contract to flight' programs ever completed.

"This is an outstanding day for Bell and our customer, the US Army," said Bell Chief Executive Officer Mike Redenbaugh. "The ARH-70A is needed for the war on terror that is being fought by our military. This flight begins a new phase in the development of the aircraft and brings it closer to beginning the mission it was designed to execute."

The first flight also demonstrated the unique ARH teaming relationship between Bell and the US Army -- with both a Bell and Army pilot conducting the operations. Bell test pilot Jim McCollough and Army pilot CW5 Alan Davis performed pilot and co-pilot operations, proving that the Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) platform approach can be successfully applied to military applications.

The ARH-70A is a complete weapons system designed to meet aerial reconnaissance capabilities to operate with the current and future force. Equipped with lethal weapons capability, net-centric connectivity and is equipped for day and night operations. Taken together the equipped aircraft enables the air-ground maneuver commander to "see-understand-act first."

"Today's first flight marks a major milestone for the ARH-70A as the program transitions into the flight test phase," said Bell's ARH-70A program manager Bill Leonard. "Our Team's focus continues to be towards the completion of the build and functional test of the remaining three test aircraft, clearing the path towards a successful Limited Users Test (LUT), and finishing the production design."

The program schedule has LUT beginning late 2006 to early 2007, in order to complete the production award criteria required to accomplish the first unit equipped in fourth quarter FY 2008 and Full-Rate production in FY 2009.

FMI: www.bellhelicopter.com

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