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Bell to build 29 AH-1Z Viper helicopters for US Marine Corps

$510 million contract includes component procurement for additional 7 Vipers

Bell Helicopter was awarded a nearly $510 million contract modification to manufacture 29 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for the U.S. Marine Corps and procure components for an additional seven, the Department of Defense announced.

The $509,750,754 award definitizes an earlier advance acquisition contract and provides for the manufacture of 29 Lot 15 production AH-1Z aircraft as part of the Marine Corps H-1 upgrade program, the Thursday, August 23 release said.

The modification also provides for long lead material and components for an additional seven Lot 16 aircraft.

In February, Bell was awarded $37.6 million for the procurement of long-lead lead items for 27 AH-1Z helicopters.

In a February 27, 2017 solicitation, the Navy said it intended to negotiate with Bell, a Textron subsidiary, for an estimated 27 Lot 15 helicopters with an option for Lot 16. Some of the funding for the Lot 15 helicopters is from foreign military sales funds.

Under the production contract the AH-1Zs would be contracted for on a fixed price basis. The contract also includes components, assembly, testing and delivery, as well as support equipment and logistics.

Naval Air Systems Command first contracted Bell for the Marine Corps H-1 upgrade program in 1996 when it planned to replace the AH-1W Super Cobra and UH-1N Huey with the Vipers and UH-1Y Venom helicopters.

The AH-1Z Viper is the latest in the long line of Huey family helicopters. The twin-engine attack helicopter is based on the AH-1W SuperCobra developed for the Marine Corps and features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, upgraded avionics and a new target sighting system.

It first flew on December 8, 2000.

Pakistan has ordered 12 AH-1Zs at a cost of $228 million, with delivery anticipated as early as this year.  In December, the Department of Defense awarded General Dynamics a $9 million contract to outfit Pakistan’s Vipers with gun turrets, although the work is not expected to be completed until August 2021.

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