Nigeria acquires AH-1Z helos, but without AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

WASHINGTON — The United States has approved the possible sale of 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Nigeria, learned, citing AnalisiDifesa.

Nigeria acquires AH-1Z helos, but without AGM-114 Hellfire missiles
Photo credit: FlightGlobal

On April 14, the Pentagon announced that the State Department had approved a possible sale under the Foreign Military Sales Program and notified Congress of the $ 997 million deal, which also includes 28 GE 401C engines and 2,000 T-700 engines. Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System [APKWS] missiles, 20 mm M197 guns, targeting systems, night vision equipment, technical and logistical support.

No Hellfire missiles were mentioned and it is unclear whether the plane will be purchased by the military or the Air Force.

“The proposed sale will allow Nigeria to better contribute to shared security goals, promote regional stability and build interoperability with the United States and other Western partners. This sale will be an important contribution to the security goals of the United States and Nigeria,” the Defense and Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA] said in a statement.

USMC increased AH-1Z Viper helo capacity through AGM-179A missile
Photo credit: Cpl. Gabrielle Sanders / USMC

Nigeria has long been interested in acquiring AH-1Z helicopters, but the deal was halted due to fears of possible human rights abuses by the Nigerian government. Nigeria has often had difficulty acquiring US military supplies due to controversies over respect for human rights.

In 2014, the United States blocked Israel’s sale of surplus weapons systems made in the United States by its military, canceling a proposed sale of Israel’s banned AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.

The Trump administration has approved the sale of 12 anti-guerrilla A-29 Super Tucano turboprop aircraft, manufactured in the United States by Sierra Nevada Corporation, delivered last year.

About Bell AH-1Z Viper

The Bell AH-1Z Viper was first introduced in 2000, but after hundreds of tests entered service in 2010. So far, more than 220 helicopters have been built.

The Bell AH-1Z Viper is an American twin-engine attack helicopter, based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, that was developed for the United States Marine Corps as part of the H-1 upgrade program. The AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system.

8 shots, 8 hits - AH-1Z Viper helo successfully tests JAGM missile
Photo credit: Defense Express

In addition to Nigeria as the future operator of this helicopter, Bahrain, the Czech Republic and the United States are the other three countries in the world that have joined the Bell AH-1Z Viper.

The helicopter is piloted by a crew of two. It is powered by two General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshafts, 1,800 shp [1,300 kW] each. The cruising speed at which it is most effective is 160 kn [180 mph, 300 km / h], while the maximum is 222 kn [255 mph, 411 km / h]. By refueling, the Bell AH-1Z Viper can fly a distance of 370 nmi [430 mi, 690 km]. Its combat range is 125 nmi [144 mi, 232 km] with 2,500 lb [1,100 kg] payload.

The main armament of the helicopter is a 20 mm [0.787 in] M197 three-barreled rotary cannon in the A / A49E-7 turret. The Bell AH-1Z Viper uses 2.75 in [70 mm] Hydra 70 [unguided] or APKWS II [guided] missiles. In addition to the AGM-114 Hellfire, the Viper is armed with a maximum of two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.


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