Bell AH-1Z Viper

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 upgrades 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. For more details, see specifications below.



Price/Unit Cost:

The unit cost of a new build AH-1Z Viper is $29.89 million (flyaway cost in FY 2014). The cost of the airframe is $20.48 million, the avionics package costs $6.03 million and the engines (x2) cost $755,905 each.



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 2014 DoD Program:

Provides funds in the amount of $337.3 million for the purchase of 10 new build AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.



FY 2015 AH-1 DoD Program:

Provides funds in the amount of $398.6M for the purchase of 11 new build AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The budget also funds development efforts to support follow-on improvements to sensors and weapons integration, avionics and air vehicle components that will address deficiencies, systems safety, obsolescence, reliability, and cost growth issues.

For more information, click to view the FY 2015 DoD AH-1Z/UH-1Y Budget.




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

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2015 Budget

Last Update: June 6, 2014.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard /// (jkasper@bga-aeroweb.com)

External Resources:



Bell Helicopter's AH-1Z Site: AH-1Z Viper
Lockheed Martin: AN/AAQ-30 TSS Hawkeye EO/IR FCS General Dynamics: M197 20mm Gatling Gun

YouTube: Bell AH-1Z Viper | YouTube

Fact Sheet: Bell AH-1Z Viper Brochure

AH-1 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the AH-1Z Viper in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
DoD Purchases of AH-1Z Viper Helicopters in FY 2011, FY 2012, FY 2013, FY 2014 and FY 2015
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2011/12/13 + Budget for FYs 2014 + 2015

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the AH-1Z Viper

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Purchases of H-1 Helicopters (NAVY) AH-1W Aircraft Modifications (NAVY)
Aircraft Spares and Parts (NAVY)
Specifications

Aircraft Specifications: AH–1Z Viper

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Primary Function: Close air support, anti-armor, armed escort,
armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support coordination capabilities
under day/night and adverse weather conditions
Prime Contractor: Bell Helicopter Textron
Power Plant: 2x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines with 1,800 shp (each engine)
Length: Fuselage: 44 ft 10 in (13.67 m); w/rotating rotor: 58 ft 3 in (17.8 m)
Height: 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m)
Rotor Diameter: 48 ft (14.6 m)
Weight (Empty): 12,300 lbs (5,579 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 18,500 lbs (8,390 kg)
Payload: Max: 2,176 lbs (987 kg)
Fuel Capacity: Internal: 2,858 lbs (1,296 kg)
Speed: Cruise: 155 kts/178 mph (287 km/h);
Rate of Climb: 2,790 ft/min (14.2 m/s)
Service Ceiling: 20,000+ ft (6,096+ m)
Combat Radius: 125 nm/144 miles (232 km) with 2,500 lbs (1,134 kg) payload
Crew: Two (pilot and co-pilot/gunner)
First Flight: December 8, 2000
Price/Unit Cost: $29.89 million flyaway cost (in FY 2014)
Deployed: September 2010

Armament/Weapons:
Main Gun: 1x General Dynamics M197 20mm three-barreled gatling gun with 750 rounds (in A/A49E-7 turret).
Weapons Carried: 16x AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in 4x M272 four-round missile launchers (two on each wing);
2x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (AIM-9X projected); 4x LAU-61 19-tube Rocket Pods for 2.75" (70mm) Hydra-70 rockets;
or 4x LAU-68 7-tube Rocket Pods for 2.75" (70mm) Hydra-70 rockets.

Avionics/Countermeasures:
Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-30 TSS Hawkeye EO/IR fire control system
Thales TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight and Display System
Northrop Grumman AN/APR-39B(V)2 Radar Warning Receiver
Alliant Techsystems AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning System
Goodrich AN/AVR-2A Laser Warning System
Raytheon AN/APX-100 Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF)
BAE Systems AN/ALE-47 Airborne Countermeasures Dispenser System
Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 Digital Communication System
CN-1689(V)2/ASN Embedded GPS/INS
Rockwell Collins AN/ARN-153(V) TACAN System
DF-301E VHF/UHF Direction Finder

Defense Program

Aircraft Programs Missile Programs Space Programs Shipbuilding Programs Vehicle Programs

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