Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
Also Known As: AH-1Z King Cobra and AH-1Z Super Cobra
Origin: United States of America
Corporations: Bell Helicopter
Parent System: AH-1Z
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): February 2011
Total Production: 202
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Description: The AH-1Z is the last derivative of proven AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter being developed under the USMC $4.5 billion H-1 program. It features a four-bladed main rotor powered by two T700-GE-401C engines. Under the H-1 upgrade program up to 180 existing USMC's AH-1Ws will be re-manufactured to the AH-1Z configuration. Aircraft modified under the H-1 program will remain in service with the USMC beyond 2025.
The H-1 upgrade will reduce 70% maintenance costs saving around $2 billion while providing a more survivable, maneuverable, and supportability helicopter using the most modern technologies available. The UH-1Y and the AH-1Z aircraft to be modified under the H-1 program will share 84% of component parts.
The AH-1Z features higher g loads, maneuverability, flexibility, survivability, full digital glass cockpit, TopOwl helmet mounted displays, advanced electronic warfare protection suite, and a crashworthy fuel system to reduce risk of fire over current AH-1Ws.
The AH-1Z weapon system comprises a 20mm main gun, up to 16 AGM-114A/B/C/F/K Hellfire anti-armor missiles, 2 AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and rocket launchers. The Hawkeye XR target sight system (TSS) permits to utilize the Hellfire missile at maximum missile's reach during day/night and adverse weather conditions.
The AH-1Z will be able to operate from both land and sea platforms. The T700-GE-701C engine is being offered as an alternative powerplant for AH-1Z international customers.
As of 2004, US Marine Corps reports suggest that the AH-1Z helicopter will complete its integrated testing in April 2005, the full rate production will start in February 2006, and the initial operational capability will be achieved in June 2009. These delays are the result of Marine Corps aim to change procurement profile to expedite replacement of the aging UH-1 fleet.
On April 4, 2005, Bell Helicopter Textron was awarded a $104 million contract to exercise an option for low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot II procurement of 3 AH-1Zs and 4 UH-1Ys in fiscal year 2005 under the H-1 program. The work was expected to be complete by December 2007.
Bell Helicopter rolled out its first production AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters September 27, 2006, at Amarillo plant, Texas. The US Marine Corps H-1 program calls for 280 upgraded attack helicopters and utility helicopters. As of early 2010, the number of AH-1Z helicopters to be procured by the USMC could exceed 226 from 180 aircraft envisaged previously. In October 2010, after completion of OPEVAL the number of AH-1Z to be delivered to the USMC by 2019 was 189 new and remanufactured aircraft.
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