US aircraft builder Bell has marked the start of production of the first AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter for the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Delegates from Bahrain 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 US Department of Defense awarded Bell a contract in 2018 to manufacture and deliver 12 Lot-16 AH-1Z aircraft to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bell projects production deliveries to begin in late-2021.
In April 2018, the US State Department approved Bahrain to buy the helicopters as well as 26 T-700 GE 401C engines, Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II guided rockets for an estimated cost of $911.4 million. Bahrain already operates AH-1 attack helicopters.
“We are honored to host the Kingdom of Bahrain and share this milestone in production for the AH-1Z,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 Vice President and Program Director. “Today’s ceremony marks a new milestone in bringing the advanced capabilities of the Viper a step closer to the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
In addition to Bahrain, the Czech Republic has also ordered the AH-1Z Viper, while the helicopter is in service with the US Marine Corps (USMC). AH-1Z replaced the two-bladed AH-1W Super Cobra while the UH-1Y Venom replaced the UH-1N Huey in USMC service.