Bell Textron announced on March 15 that it has delivered three 505 Jet Ranger X light helicopters to the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF), adding that the rotorcraft will enhance the training proficiencies of the Middle Eastern air arm.
While Bell announced the delivery of these helicopters to Bahrain on March 15, the aircraft were actually handed over to the RBAF during an inspection and acceptance event at Bell’s Mirabel facility in Quebec, Canada, in February. This recent delivery marks the first examples of the Jet Ranger X to enter service in Bahrain, with Bell providing a package of training services, in addition to associated tooling and spare parts.
Commenting on the delivery, Sameer Rehman – managing director of Bell’s Africa and Middle East division – said: “We are honored to provide the Bahrain Defense Force another premiere Bell asset to train the next generation of Bahraini pilots… Generations of Bahraini pilots have flown in Bell helicopters, and the Bell 505 will continue the tradition of excellence for years to come.”
The RBAF is a long-term Bell customer and currently operates three Bell 412EP utility helicopters, along with a 17-strong fleet of AH-1FB Cobra gunships and six TAH-1P Cobra trainers, in addition to 12 new-build AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. There are currently six examples of the latter in-country – with the type having entered operational service in June 2022 – but the remaining six AH-1Zs are scheduled to arrive later this year.
With this acquisition of the 505 Jet Ranger X, the RBAF has become the third operator in the Middle East to acquire the type. The UAE’s Horizon International Flight Academy currently employs 12 Jet Ranger Xs, while the Royal Jordanian Air Force signed an agreement to acquire ten Bell 505s in November 2022. The type is also operated by the Montenegro Army Air Force, Republic of Korea Army and Republic of Korea Navy.