The Mexican Air Force is buying another Bell 412 helicopter, in addition to the four they already have. The 412s will be used for counter-drug operations. In effect, the Mexican 412s will be used as combat helicopters. This is not the first time this has been done. Canada recently sent several of its 412s (called CH-146) to Afghanistan, to serve as armed escorts for its CH-47 transports.
The Bell 412 is an updated version of the Bell 212, which is a civilian version of the 1960s era U.S. Army UH-1 ("Huey"). The 5.3 ton 412s normally carry twelve passengers, and no weapons. But such helicopters can be equipped with machine-guns and rockets. The CH-146s were so equipped, along with sensors that will make it easier to operate at night and in bad weather.
Mexico already has some Bell 212s and Mi-17s for use as transports. The Mexican 412s will cost about $10 million each (including spares and maintenance support). Nearly 900 412s have been produced since 1981. There are about 40 nations using the 412 for military service.