The US Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command recognized an impressive production streak this week with the 100th on-time delivery of the AH-1Z Viper, the Navy’s attack helicopter.
The Viper is built by Bell Textron at the company’s assembly center in Amarillo, Texas.
âOf all domestic AH-1Zs delivered to date, 91 percent of them were on time,â said Colonel Vasilios Pappas, program manager. “This is a feat that is only possible thanks to the determination of our production team and the program’s strong relationship with our industry partners and suppliers.”
The AH-1Zs delivered to date are a mix of U.S. and FMS sales, with 34 additional aircraft scheduled for delivery through 2023.
For Marines, the AH-1Z provides close air support, armed escort / reconnaissance, anti-armor operations, and anti-aircraft warfare. From 2011, the AH-1Z began to replace the two-bladed Super Cobra AH-1W. The helicopter features a four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched drivetrain, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and fully glass cockpit. integrated compared to its predecessor. The AH-1Z is also equipped with an integrated advanced fire control system and the ability to support multiple weapon configurations.
The Marine Corps operates the AH-1Z alongside the UH-1Y Venom, the utility version of the H-1. The two variants capitalize on a similarity of 85%; the mix enables a squadron to accomplish a variety of missions, from humanitarian aid and disaster relief to close air support and air-to-air warfare.
âAnd we are constantly integrating new technologies and researching innovative options to keep the platform ready and relative in the future,â said Pappas.
Earlier this summer, a Marine Corps AH-1Z Viper established a two-way connection between a ground station and the aircraft’s Link 16 and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) systems. This was a major milestone in the testing and integration of the Digital Interoperability (DI) Suite, a gateway for sharing information across various networks. Additionally, the suite includes a new mobile digital map, allowing the Marine Corps H-1 platform to display information from these data links on a common display. The DI suite also modernizes the way data is loaded to and from the H-1 platform.
Flight tests on the AH-1Z will continue through the fall, with initial Marine Corps integration scheduled for 2022. Additionally, the program is working with industry and the test squadron to test in flight the same DI suite on the UH-1Y.
PMA-276 manages the cradle-to-grave supply, development, support, commissioning and disposal of Marine Corps close-air rotary-wing support systems, anti-armor, armed escort, armed / visual reconnaissance and fire support program.