Iran appears determined to not only maintain its enormous fleet of hundreds of Bell helicopters in the wake of the ongoing U.S. arms embargo against it, but also to make indigenous and unauthorized copies of them. In 2006, Bell filed suit against Iran for making unauthorized knock-offs of several models including 206s and 205s.
Iranian Air Force
Western powers increasingly characterize Iran as a potential cause for instability in the Middle East. The U.S. and its allies charge Tehran with funding and supporting the insurgency in Iraq, maintaining a well-developed ballistic missile program and seeking its own nuclear arsenal.
Iranian customers have recently placed orders for 15 locally built Shahed-278 light helicopters, but suppliers from around the world see Iran as a market ripe for development. The interest reflects the growing demand for modern rotorcraft to support Iran’s flourishing oil, shipping and construction business industries, as well as for medevac and VIP travel.