Bell AH-1Z Viper

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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.



Armament/Weapons:

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.



Mission/Role:

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 2017 & FY 2018 - 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.

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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

Rotorcraft Forecast:

Platinum Forecast System:

Rotorcraft Forecast
Rotorcraft Forecast
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