Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. was awarded a $240.3 million contract to build 12 AH-1Z helicopters for The Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF). Last November, Bahrain has confirmed its order for 12 Bell AH-1Z Vipers, six months after the US Department of State approved the deal, worth an estimated $912 million, under the Foreign Military Sales process. The order to manufacture and deliver the Lot 16 helicopter, known as the Viper and Zulu Cobra. It is part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ program to upgrade the H-1 program with 189 AH-1Zs and 60 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, according to Bell Helicopters.
Work on the helicopters is expected to be completed by August 2022 at Bell’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas (60 percent); and Amarillo, Texas (40 percent). The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity. Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $240,266,448 are being obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The US government has also given the go-ahead for a series of munitions to be supplied with the aircraft. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Government of Bahrain has requested 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 26 T-700 GE 401C engines (24 installed and 2 spares), 14 AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles, and 56 Advance Precision Kill Weapon System II (APKWS-II) WGU-59Bs.
It is only the second export sale of the AH-1Z, with Pakistan having committed to 12 examples. Bahrain already operates 22 older AH-1 Cobras, which the country intends to retain and which have been undergoing upgrades. The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an improved version of the Cobra. The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an improved version of the first ever attack helicopter, the AH-1 Cobra. It is also called Zulu Cobra. The latest AH-1Z Viper is a result of AH-1 helicopter upgrade program for the US Marine Corps. It was launched by the US Government in 1996 and has been won the Bell helicopter company. It is worth noting that the Viper was developed alongside the UH-1Y Venom transport helicopter under the same program.