Bell Textron Inc. recently completed the Program of Record for the U.S. Marine Corps H-1, with the 189th delivery of the AH-1Z. The company has been producing H-1s for the U.S. military since 1959, including the first H-1 production lot order placed by the Marines in 1962.
Bell originally designed the H-1 for the U.S. Army with the iconic Huey helicopter. In 1966 Bell created the AH-1 Cobra as the first dedicated gunship. In 1970, the Bell UH-1N brought twin engine capabilities to more than 28 countries, and in 1984 the AH-1W provided the U.S. Marine Corps increased attack helicopter capability.
The current generation AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom have an 85 percent commonality rating — the most among any Department of Defense (DOD) operated aircraft.
The AH-1Z achieved initial operating capacity in February 2011 and the UH-1Y achieved initial operating capacity in August 2008. The first combined Viper/Venom deployment with a Marine Expeditionary Unit occurred in 2009.
“H-1s are key to the 2023 Marine Corps Aviation Plan,” said Col. Vasillios Pappas, light attack program manager (PMA-276). “With the US program of record now complete, the Marines have the flexibility to manage and deploy the helicopters based on current and future mission requirements as established at the start of the program.”
The H-1 production line is still active in support of foreign military sales to approved U.S. allies. Bell continues to produce AH-1Z Vipers for the Kingdom of Bahrain and will manufacture eight UH-1Ys and four AH-1Zs for the Czech Republic in 2023.
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