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There Is Now One More USMC Attack Viper in the Sky, Others On the Way

It’s been quite some time since the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) started looking for a replacement for the aging AH-1W Super Cobra, yet the military branch seems to be in no hurry to complete the switch. Ten years since that time, and four into the Viper era, it just announced it received a fancy new helicopter from its maker, Bell.
Bell AH-1Z Viper 15 photos
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The AH-1Z Viper is an attack helicopter meant to aid the USMC with things like armed escort, reconnaissance, anti-armor and anti-air operations. Having arrived onto the scene back in 2000, it is described as a tool meant to “eliminate threats at unimaginable range” – if you can call 357 miles (575 km) unimaginable.

Capable of reaching speeds of 230 mph (370 kph), the aircraft can make a dent in enemy defenses by using anti-armor and air-to-air missiles – in fact, says Bell, this is the only “attack helicopter in the world with fully-integrated air-to-air missile capability."

The USMC uses the Viper in conjunction with the UH-1Y Venom, with which it shares some 85 percent of components. The Venom is however more of a utility machine, having been created for search and rescue or command and control ops.

Despite the ten years that have passed since its introduction, the Viper fleet has already flown (together with the Venoms) for over 400,000 hours, a milestone that was reached back in June.

Technically, the helicopter family is still in its testing stages, with exercises continuing through the fall. Full integration of the Viper with the USMC is expected to be completed sometime next year.

The Viper that was just delivered is the 100th to be shipped to the USMC in time, but it is not the only one left to be made. By the end of 2023, the military branch is expecting another 34 of them, and hopes that, as was the case until now, they will be delivered on time.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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