The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter derived from the AH-1W Super Cobra. It is used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) as part of the H-1 upgrade program for the series.

Helicopter gunships are one of the proven combat systems for multiple roles as infantry support. Its very design is developed for the purpose of anti-personnel and anti-armor duties.

What is the AH-1Z Viper?

It is a continuation of the Bell H1 Super Cobra that was introduced during the Vietnam war. The Viper had changed as part of its upgrade program. It is one of the main rotorcraft for attacking ground targets while supporting U.S. infantry, according to the Military.

The AH-1Z Viper is well suited for real close air support (CAS) during operation, to engage enemies and provide cover. It is also used in other missions like taking out tanks and troop carriers with its chin-mounted gun and wing-mounted weapons.

Other missions assigned to the Viper gunship are escorting assets of the US Marines, armed/visual reconnaissance for missions into enemy-occupied territories. To keep watch over adversaries and their movement so commanders know what to do. Since the chopper is mobile, it has visual on enemy position to guide artillery fire in night or day, all-weather conditions.

Major changes for the attack Viper

There are differences in the AH-1Z Viper and AH-1W Super Cobra that further differentiates the two, which are major improvements. Implementing these changes is essential to keep the weapon system serving the USMC.

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The AH-1W to the Viper is from a two to four-blade rotor composite rotor system, improved transmission from the original for better flight performance. Other changes are a four-bladed tail rotor, improved landing gear, and an already fully integrated glass cockpit for an all-around view.

Since both Cobra and Viper used the same components, interchanging parts make it cheaper to operate, which is a win for maintenance and operational readiness. Between the Cobra and Viper, they are similar up to 85%.

Equipment installed in the Viper

The two crewmen have their Thales "Top Owl" helmet-mounted sight and display system that enables night vision, and a binocular display with a 40° field of view. Its visor system has infrared for all-weather visibility, night or day as seen via video.

Allowing the gunship to survive with less engine exhaust that is reduced by the Hover Infrared Suppression System (HIRSS). Added defensive systems are chaff dispensers that decoy missiles, radar warnings, missile alert, and on-fuselage laser spot warning systems, these systems keep the Viper alerted on the battlefield.

How it tracks targets and destroys targets

Onboard the helicopter is a Lockheed Martin target sight system (TSS) with a third-generation infrared sensor that allows detecting targets night or day, or in all weather conditions. The Viper is armed with several weapons to destroy targets.

On its nose are 20mm, three barreled Gatling cannon, Hydra 70 or APKWS II rockets, AGM-114 Hellfire, and sidewinder missiles for protection against other gunships. Using rockets and its cannon to attack targets more precisely, the AH-1W Super Cobra has served excellently. The Bell AH-1Z Viper has significant improvements that make it a formidable attack helicopter and an example of aerial artillery.

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