Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has completed the AH-1Z program of record (POR) for the Kingdom of Bahrain. 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 Royal Bahraini Air Force of 12 AH-1Zs, 26 T-700 GE 401C engines, and armaments for an estimated cost of US$911.4 million. In November 2018, Bahrain confirmed the order for 12 AH-1Zs, and the first six were delivered in mid-2022. Bell delivered the final production aircraft to Naval Air Systems Command in December of 2022. The first Bahrain AH-1Zs made their in-country debut during the Bahrain Air Show and six have been delivered in country. The final six helicopters will be prepared for shipment to Bahrain with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) before being transported to Bahrain in 2023.
“Congratulations to the Kingdom of Bahrain on obtaining the latest generation of the AH-1Zs. As a leader in the region, Bahrain’s defensive capabilities will be further bolstered by the advanced technologies of the Viper. Capabilities are only part of the equation when it comes to modernizing an aircraft fleet,” Deslatte added. “By ensuring the aircraft can operate with minimal logistics support, the Viper enables leaders to react with greater speed and agility to rapidly evolving operations,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell vice president and H-1 program director.
The completion of the Bahrain AH-1Z program of record comes on the heels of Bell completing the U.S. Marine Corps program of record, signifying two major H-1 production milestones in one year. The AH-1Z Viper is Bell’s newest generation of dedicated attack helicopters manufactured by Bell. The U.S. Marine Corps currently operates the AH-1Z around the world, taking advantage of the minimal logistics requirements for shipboard and expeditionary operations. Bell continues to work with Kingdom of Bahrain on post-shipping inspections and re-assembly to guarantee configuration as defined in the FMS case. In addition to manufacturing and delivering the new Vipers, Bell will support the lifecycle of the aircraft to ensure reliability, survivability and lethality on the modern battlefield.
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter, based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, designed and produced by the American aerospace manufacturer Bell Helicopter. Being one of the latest members of the prolific Bell Huey family, it is also called “Zulu Cobra”, based on the military phonetic alphabet pronunciation of its variant letter. The AH-1Z is equipped with a pair of redesigned stub wings, these being substantially longer than those of the preceding SuperCobra. Each one has an additional wingtip station for a missile such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder. Each stub wing has two other stations for 2.75-inch (70 mm) Hydra 70 rocket pods, or AGM-114 Hellfire quad missile launchers. The AN/APG-78 Longbow fire control radar can also be mounted on a wingtip station. Underneath the nose of the AH-1Z is an A/A49E-7 turret fitted with a 20 mm (0.787 in) M197 three-barreled rotary cannon; this weapon has a higher muzzle velocity and flatter trajectory than predecessors; it is also compatible with M50-series air-to-air rounds.