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Bahrain’s first AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter ready for delivery

Royal Bahraini Air Force AH-1Z
Photo: Bell

Bell Textron has completed construction of the first AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter for the Kingdom of Bahrain, sharing the first photo of the aircraft in its completed form earlier this week.

The company delivered the first of 12 production aircraft to Naval Air Systems Command for further delivery to Bahrain on September 30. The company is delivering the helicopters as part of the 2019 foreign military sales (FMS) contract.

According to the company, the helicopter will be prepared for shipment to Bahrain with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) before being transported to Bahrain in 2022.

It should be noted that the company completed the helicopter a little over six months after officially starting assembly work in April at its Bell Amarillo production facility.

“This is an extraordinary achievement by the H-1 program and brings the Royal Bahraini Air Force a step closer to fielding the advanced capabilities of the AH-1Z,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 vice president and program director. “The men and women of Team Viper, a group of premier suppliers, have done an exceptional job of delivering to the US government, on time and on contract.”

Bell designed the AH-1Z Viper to meet operational requirements of the US Marine Corps, which focus on full marinization and a reduced logistical footprint. The aircraft has an integrated glass cockpit and the ability to carry a variety of munitions.

The composite rotor system further enhances the Viper’s ability to provide close air support to ground forces in any environment, while the fully integrated Target Sight System (TSS) enhances pilots’ capabilities to identify clearly, acquire, track and engage targets beyond maximum weapon range.

“The Viper will provide significant benefits to the Bahrain Defence Force as they modernize their fleet of attack helicopters,” said Deslatte. “Having a proven state-of-the-art platform will help contribute to the security of Bahrain while improving interoperability with US forces.”

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.