Bell Textron Inc. has delivered the 189th and final AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter for the US Marine Corps at Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas, concluding the Program of Record for the latest H-1 platforms.
With the delivery of 160 UH-1Y Venom choppers in 2018, the marine corps now has 349 H-1s in service.
The Bell AH-1Z Viper was developed to replace the older two-bladed AH-1W Super Cobra. Meanwhile, the UH-1Y replaced the UH-1N Twin Huey constructed specifically for the US Army.
The Viper features a four-bladed composite rotor system, four-bladed tail rotor, glass cockpit, updated landing gear, and transmission.
It also supports missions such as anti-armor, anti-air, armed/visual reconnaissance, anti-air,
Bell has been producing H-1 helicopters for the US military since 1959, with the company creating the AH-1 Cobra in 1966 as the first dedicated gunship. By 1970, Bell had distributed the Huey’s twin-engine capabilities to over 28 countries. By 1984, the US Marine Corps started using the Super Cobra to bolster its attack helicopter fleet.
“The first production lot of US Marine Corps H-1s was ordered in 1962, and they changed the way Marines fight today,” Bell H-1 Vice President and Program Director Mike Deslatte said.
“Completing the AH-1Z and UH-1Y deliveries to the US Marine Corps adds one more chapter to the legacy of the H-1 platform.”
Viper/Venom Fleet in US Military
According to Bell, the Viper and the Venom share nearly the same specifications, providing an advantage for military operations and logistics.
The helicopters achieved initial operating capacity in 2011 and 2008, respectively. Both were operated under the first combined Viper/Venom deployment of a Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2009.
The mixed fleet of Vipers and Venoms has accumulated over 450,000 flight hours in US service to date.
“H-1s are key to the 2022 Marine Corps Aviation Plan,” PMA-276 Light/Attack Helicopters Program Manager Col. Vasillios Pappas said.
“With the US program of record now complete, the Marines have the flexibility to manage and deploy the helicopters based on current and future mission requirements as established at the start of the program.”
Bell H-1 Choppers With US Allies
Bell partners with approved allies for H-1 foreign military sales.
The company is expected to deliver AH-1Z Vipers to Bahrain, while additional AH-1Zs and UH-1Ys will be produced for the Czech Republic.