The US Marine Corps has officially retired the Bell AH-1W SUPER COBRA attack helicopter after 34 years’ service, Bell Helicopter Textron announced on 19 October.
“The AH-1W SUPER COBRA has served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of on-time, on-target attack helicopter support for our Marines,” commented Col David Walsh, Programme Manager, Light/Attack Helicopter Programmes (PMA-276). “Although the AH-1W chapter is closing, the AH-1Z VIPER stands ready with even greater capability to support our Marines for years to come.”
Originally designated AH-1T+, the SUPER COBRA first flew on 16 November 1983 at Bell’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, TX. The first AH-1Ws were delivered to the Marines in March 1986 and the last in 1999, for a domestic fleet of 179 attack helicopters. Through August 2020, the USMC flew the SUPER COBRA for 933,614 hours.
AH-1Ws remanufactured into AH-1Z VIPERs will continue to serve in the Corps. The four-bladed VIPER will provide fully-integrated air-to-air and anti-armour capabilities, designed to successfully accomplish the broadest array of contemporary missions.