Posted by John McHale
FORT WORTH, Texas, 9 Oct. 2010. Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced that the U.S. Marine Corps' newest attack helicopter, the AH-1Z Cobra successfully completed Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL). The Marine Corps is replacing the two-bladed AH-1W with the AH-1Z, which features a new, four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear, and a fully integrated glass cockpit. The Navy's Aviation program office (NAVAIR) for H-1 Upgrades received official notification from the Navy's Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force that its AH-1Z helicopters were found to be "operationally effective and suitable" and were recommended for fleet introduction. The H-1 Upgrade Program offers 84 percent commonality of parts between the AH-1Z and UH-1Y utility helicopters. This commonality reduces training and lifecycle costs and decreases the expeditionary logistics footprint for both aircraft. "We are pleased and proud that the AH-1Z has completed its operational evaluation," says John Garrison, president of Bell Helicopter. "The AH-1Z is a remarkable aircraft that is only made stronger by the Marine aviators that fly them. We are excited that our warfighters will receive the full benefit of this awesome machine."A total of 189 new and remanufactured AH-1Z helicopters are anticipated, with deliveries expected to be complete by the end of 2019. The AH-1Z Cobra helicopters are part of the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Upgrade program. The program's goal is to replace AH-1W helicopters with new and remanufactured AH-1Zs which provide significantly greater performance, supportability, and growth potential over their predecessors.