Bell prepares to build 24 new Marine Corps AH-1Z attack helicopters in $55.9 million contract
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 7 March 2016. Military helicopter designers at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas, are preparing to build 24 new-build AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and associated avionics for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $55.9 million U.S. Navy contract announced last week.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command are asking Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, to buy long-lead parts and components necessary to build 24 Lot 14 AH-1Z helicopters as part of the H-1 upgrade program.
The AH-1Z is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W 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.
The Marine Corps H-1 upgrades program is building new helicopters, as well as rebuilding legacy AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopters with state of the art designs. The program seeks to upgrade AH-1Ws to AH-1Zs, and UH-1Ns to UH-1Ys.
Long-lead items involve system components that require the longest time to build, which could delay overall system production if money isn't allocated for production early in the process.
The helicopter can carry a payload of 5,764 pounds, can fly as fast as 222 knots, has a range of 370 nautical miles, and can fly as high as 20,000 feet. The AH-1Z has a crew of two, and carries a 20-millimeter Gatling gun, and can fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles.
The contract announced Tuesday is for helicopter components that are difficult or time-consuming to procure, and is not for completed aircraft.
On this contract Bell Helicopter will do the work in Fort Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and should be finished by June 2017. For more information contact Bell Helicopter online at www.bellhelicopter.com, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.