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Bell Textron to supply Nigeria with 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.

| Defense News Aerospace 2024

Bell Textron has secured a $455 million contract to supply 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters to the Nigerian Government, according to Harry McNeil in Airforce Technology. This agreement is a key development in Nigeria’s efforts to modernize its military capabilities. Analysis by GlobalData on Nigeria’s defence market highlights the critical need for these attack helicopters within the Nigerian Air Force to enhance its combat capabilities, crucial for bolstering the nation’s counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
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Bell Textron to supply Nigeria with 12 Bell AH 1Z Viper attack helicoptersBell AH-1Z of USMC HMLA-367 (Picture source: US Marine Corps)

The contract, issued by the US Naval Air Systems Command, encompasses the manufacturing and delivery of the helicopters, in addition to providing comprehensive engineering, program management, and logistical support services. Furthermore, Bell Textron will offer unique engineering services to tackle issues related to obsolescence, ensuring these helicopters remain effective throughout their lifespan. The majority of the contract work will be carried out in Fort Worth, Texas, with additional contributions from Amarillo, Texas. The project is slated for completion by July 2028. A portion of the contract funding, amounting to $82,345,771, will be covered by Foreign Military Sales customer funds.

The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter developed by Bell Helicopter Textron for the United States Marine Corps. It represents the latest variant in the AH-1 Cobra family, which has a storied history dating back to its initial use during the Vietnam War. The AH-1Z incorporates state-of-the-art technology and advanced combat capabilities, designed for assault and close air support missions. This helicopter is a key component of the U.S. Marine Corps' air-ground task force.

The AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, and a new tail rotor and drive system, differentiating it from its predecessors. These improvements provide greater agility, performance, and survivability. The airframe incorporates advanced materials to reduce weight and resist battle damage. The helicopter is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-401C engines, offering enhanced power for improved flight performance and the ability to operate in hot and high conditions.

The Viper is equipped with the state-of-the-art Target Sight System (TSS), the most advanced targeting sensor suite available, which includes multi-spectral sensors for day and night operations, and a laser rangefinder/designator for precise targeting. Its cockpit is fully integrated and features the latest avionics systems, including the Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD) system, which allows pilots to aim their weapons simply by looking at the target.

Armament-wise, the AH-1Z carries a wide array of weapons systems, including the M197 20mm three-barreled Gatling gun, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. It can also support a variety of rockets, including Hydra 70 and advanced precision kill weapon systems (APKWS), enabling it to engage both soft and armored targets effectively.

The AH-1Z Viper is designed for all-weather, day-or-night operations. With its advanced sensors and avionics, it can perform a wide range of missions, including close air support, air-to-ground, and air-to-air combat, reconnaissance, and troop insertion/extraction under fire. The helicopter's enhanced survivability features include a comprehensive suite of countermeasures against threats from ground-based air defense systems.


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