The U.S. Navy has awarded Bell Helicopter a $423.4 million contract modification ordering more AH-1Z new build helicopters.
Under this modification, Bell Helicopter will manufacture and deliver 25 Lot 14 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters in support of the H-1 upgrade program the Marine Corps is undertaking.
The Marine Corps H-1 program is upgrading the older AH-1W SuperCobras and UH-1N Twin Hueys with the AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom until the Joint Replacement Aircraft program becomes available. H-1 was launched in 1996 with an initial deal to upgrade existing airframes but was later switched to new build aircraft.
Bell Helicopter will manufacture the helicopters in Texas and is expected to complete work on the contract in February 2020.
The AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter provides rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The 12,300 lbs (5579 kg) helicopter is equipped with an integrated advanced fire control system and the capacity to support multiple weapons configurations.
Initial operational capability for the AH-1Z, which is replacing the two-bladed AH-1W, was reached in 2011.