Bell hosted a delegation from the Kingdom of Bahrain to mark the start of production of AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters built as part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Delegates toured the Bell Amarillo production facility to observe the production line and ceremoniously sign the aircraft’s frame destined to join the Bahrain Air Force. The Department of Defense awarded Bell a contract to manufacture and deliver 12 Lot-16 AH-1Z aircraft to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bell projects production deliveries to begin in late-2021.
“We are honored to host the Kingdom of Bahrain and share this milestone in production for the AH-1Z. Today’s ceremony marks a new milestone in bringing the advanced capabilities of the Viper a step closer to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Today also signifies the dedication of thousands of Bell and Team Viper employees around the world who are proud to support our international partner” said Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 Vice President and Program Director.”
On 27 April 2018, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced it had received U.S. State Department approval and notified Congress of a possible sale to Bahrain of 12 AH-1Zs, 26 T-700 GE 401C engines, and armaments for an estimated cost of US$911.4 million. The US government has also given the go-ahead for a series of munitions to be supplied with the aircraft, including Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II guided rockets. Bahrain already operates 22 older AH-1 attack helicopters.
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an American twin-engine attack helicopter, based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, that was developed for the United States Marine Corps as part of the H-1 upgrade program. Bell designed the AH-1Z Viper to meet the modern battlefield’s expeditionary requirements across the full spectrum of military operations. The AH-1Z, one of the latest members of the prolific Bell Huey family, is also called “Zulu Cobra”, based on the military phonetic alphabet pronunciation of its variant letter.