As well as receiving the F-16 Vipers, the Royal Bahrain Air Force – Royal Bahrain Air Force (RBAF) will also receive the second and final batch of Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters on order. With the final delivery of a total of twelve Bell AH-1Z Viper units, Bell Helicopter has completed its Program of Record (POR). The first six AH-1Z Vipers have been delivered to Bahrain in 2022.
Quoted from scramble.nl (22/3/2023), it was stated that in December 2022, the last six helicopters had been transferred from the Bell Helicopter production facility to the US Naval Air Systems Command, where the second batch of six AH-1Z Viper was being prepared for delivery to Bahrain through the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) before being shipped to the Middle East.
The Bahrain AH-1Z Viper was first seen during the Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) in November 2022. The AH-1Z Viper is the successor to the older AH-1F Cobra attack helicopter, and has been in service from 2009 until late 2022. A small number of AHs The -1F Cobra has been upgraded or is in the process of being upgraded to the AH-1FB variant.
Meanwhile, the contract for the manufacture and delivery of twelve AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters (Lot 16) was awarded to Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., Fort Worth in February 2019.
Bahrain was the first export customer for the AH-1Z and delivery of the first batch was made after Bell completed delivery of its 189th unit to the US Marine Corps (USMC). Pakistan was planned to be another export customer for the attack helicopters, but the delivery has been vetoed for political reasons.
Meanwhile, the Czech Air Force will become the second export customer with four helicopters on order and another six to be delivered under a grant agreement.
The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter – 2 × General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft, which is based on the AH-1W Super Cobra design. The AH-1Z was developed during the 1990s and 2000s as part of the USMC’s H-1 upgrade program.
The AH-1Z is essentially a modernization of the existing AH-1W. Additionally, the AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearing less, composite main rotor system, an improved transmission, and a new target sighting system among other improvements.
On December 8, 2000, the AH-1Z Viper made its maiden flight; Initial low-level production was launched in October 2003. On 30 September 2010, USMC declared that the AH-1Z had reached combat readiness; it completely replaces the AH-1W Super Cobra.
The AH-1Z Viper forms a key element of the Aviation Combat Element (ACE) task force which supports all phases of USMC expeditionary operations. Since its introduction, the USMC has made various improvements, such as installing the Link 16 datalink and equipping it with the AGM-179A Joint Air to Ground Missile (JAGM). The AH-1Z Viper directly competes with the Boeing AH-64 Apache for export orders.
In terms of weapons, the AH-1Z Viper is equipped with a three-barreled 20 mm organic (internal) 1 × M197 gun in the A/A49E-7 turret. In one flight, this helicopter can carry a supply of 750 munitions. There are six hardpoint pylons on the stub wings with a maximum payload capacity of 2,615 kg.
Manned by a pilot and co-pilot/gunner, this attack helicopter has a cruising speed of 300 km per hour and a maximum speed of 411 km per hour. With full fuel, the AH-1Z can travel up to 690 km, while its combat radius is 232 km – 1,100 kg payload. With two General Electric T700-GE-401C Turbosaft engines, the AH-1Z Viper climbs at 14.2 meters per second and can fly to a maximum altitude of 6,100 meters