Bell to start delivering 12 ultra-modern AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Bahrain later this year
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Bell hosted a delegation from the Kingdom of Bahrain to mark the start of production of ultra-modern AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters built as part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
Bell helicopters have won a $240 million modification contract from the US Navy to supply 12 AH-1Z Vipers to Bahrain. Projects production deliveries are expected to begin later this year. Bell Textron Inc. is an American aerospace manufacturer headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas.
A subsidiary of Textron, Bell manufactures military rotorcraft at facilities in Fort Worth, and Amarillo, Texas, as well as commercial helicopters in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada Bahraini delegates toured the Bell production facilities in Amarillo, Texas to observe the production line and ceremoniously sign the aircraft’s frame destined to join the Royal Bahraini Air Force.
In November last year, Bahrain signed an agreement with Bell Helicopter Textron Inc to procure 12 Bell AH-1Z twin-engine attack helicopters.
Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 Vice President and Program Director, said: “We are honoured 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.” On 27 April 2018, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced it had received US 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 $911.4 million.
The US government has also given the go-ahead for a series of ammunitions 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 AH-1Z – a type currently only operated by the US Marine Corps. – is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the Bell AH1W SuperCobra that features a four-blade rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system.
It has upgraded avionics, weapons, and electro-optical sensors designed to find targets at long ranges and attack them with precision weapons.
Bahrain’s current air force inventory includes 30 AH-1E/Fs, which Cirium fleets data shows are aged up to 43 years. Bell designed the AH-1Z Viper to meet the demands of today’s military campaigns and combat missions on the battlefields, within the overall scope of military operations.
Viper regularly maintains a highly effective offensive speed from advanced operations facilities as it is characterised by a low logistical footprint without losing combat capabilities.
The state-of-the-art AH-1Z Viper aircraft