Bell AH-1Z Viper

Forecast International AeroWeb Logo
FI AeroWeb - Forecast International's Aerospace Portal

A Leading Provider of Aerospace & Defense Market Intelligence and Consulting

Product Type:

Attack Helicopter

Using Service (US):

Marine Corps (USMC)

Program Status:

In Full Rate Production (FRP)

Prime Contractor:

Bell Helicopter (Textron)

The U.S. Marine Corps' AH-1Z Viper

About the AH-1Z:

The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a two seat, twin engine, single rotor attack helicopter. It is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines with 1,800 shp each. The AH-1Z is based on the AH-1W Super Cobra and features a new four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and a fully integrated glass cockpit.

Notable equipment on the AH-1Z are the Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-30 TSS Hawkeye EO/IR fire control system, the Thales TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight and Display System, the AN/ARC-210 Digital Communication System, and the Raytheon AN/APX-100 Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) transponder.

The primary navigation system is the CN-1689(V)2/ASN Embedded GPS/INS supported by the AN/ARN-153(V) TACAN System and DF-301E VHF/UHF Direction Finder.

Aircraft countermeasures include the AN/APR-39A Radar Warning Receiver, AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System, AN/AVR-2A Laser Warning System, and the BAE Systems AN/ALE-47 Airborne Countermeasures Dispenser System.

DoD Upgrade Program:

The H–1 Helicopter Upgrade program converts AH–1W Super Cobra and UH–1N Huey helicopters to the AH–1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom, respectively. The upgraded helicopters will have increased maneuverability, speed, and payload capability. The upgrades include a new four-bladed rotor system, new transmissions, a new four-bladed tail rotor and drive system + upgraded landing gear. Also, this program provides for UH-1Y and AH-1Z new build rotorcraft.

The Marine Corps is replacing the two-bladed AH-1W Super Cobra with the AH-1Z Viper, which features a new four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and a fully integrated glass cockpit. The 84% parts commonality between the AH-1Z and the UH-1Y is expected to significantly reduce life-cycle costs and the logistical footprint of the aircraft, while increasing the maintainability and deployability.

The AH-1Z upgrade program was originally structured as a recapitalization effort to convert 127 AH-1W helicopters into AH-1Zs and build 62 new AH-1Zs. However, the increasing costs of AH-1W Super Cobra remanufacturing due to heavy wartime use and the latest cost estimates for AH-1Z new-build cabins indicate that purchasing all AH-1Zs as new-build aircraft will cost less. Also, by eliminating the AH-1W remanufacture process, the Marine Corps is able to recover more quickly from its current critical attack helicopter shortfall. The procurement strategy has been revised to exclusively purchase AH-1Z new-build aircraft beginning in FY 2013. With these changes, the revised AH-1Z procurement strategy is to convert 37 AH-1W helicopters into AH-1Zs and build 152 new AH-1Zs.


The AH-1Z Viper is equipped with a General Dynamics M197 20mm three-barreled gatling gun capable of firing up to 1,500 shots per minute. The Viper carries a combination of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles (AIM-9X projected), and 2.75" (70mm) Hydra-70 rockets. In the future, the AH-1Z will carry the Joint-Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM), which is currently being developed by the Army and Navy in cooperation with Lockheed Martin. JAGM will replace the AGM-114 Hellfire Missile.

AH-1Z Production Forecast:

A 15-year AH-1Z production forecast is available through Forecast International's Platinum Forecast System, which includes a breakout of total market unit and value statistics by manufacturer and end-user. This real-time service also includes information on all prime and subcontractors, contract awards, worldwide inventories, a complete program history, and a rationale detailing the outlook of the program. A 10-year AH-1Z production forecast is also available in report format through Forecast International's Rotorcraft Forecast service.


The AH-1Z attack helicopter provides rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support coordination capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps under day/night and adverse weather conditions.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - AH-1Z DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources Used: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Bell Helicopter,
General Dynamics, General Electric, Lockheed Martin Corp., and Thales Group.

By Forecast International /// Contact Us for Data Products and Consulting Services

Rotorcraft Forecast:

Complete and detailed information, including production forecast data, is provided in our Market Intelligence Service: Rotorcraft Forecast.

Forecast International Budget Data:

With Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, you not only get the latest program news, the DoD funding, worldwide inventories and planned quantities, long range forecasts, but most important – an expert's rationale for all programs and the overall market.

DoD Spending in FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 + 5-year forecast

Platinum Forecast System:

Rotorcraft Forecast
Rotorcraft Forecast
Defense Program
Forecast International - Platinum Forecast System

The Platinum Forecast System® is a breakthrough in forecasting technology that enables you to select your own unique criteria to create distinct market segments. With Platinum, you can create customized assessments that quickly identify both risk and future opportunities. System types and platforms, currencies, world regions and more can all be input to collect the intelligence that you need, when you need it. Seize competitive advantage and discover what Platinum, the premier aerospace, defense, power systems and electronics market forecasting tool, can do for you.

Click here for more information and a FREE demo.