Bahrain cleared to procure AH-1Z attack helos

The United States has approved the potential sale to Bahrain of 12 Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters.

The State Department approval, which was announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 27 April, covers the helicopters and their associated sustainment and support equipment, as well as weapons and other ancillary items.

Specific weapons listed comprise Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and the BAE Systems Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II guided rockets, in addition to the integrated M197 20 mm cannon already fitted. In common with the AH-1Zs fielded by the US Marine Corps (USMC), the Bahraini aircraft would be supplied with the Thales TopOwl helmet-mounted display system.

The total value is estimated to be USD911.4 million, with any sale having to first be approved by Congress.

As previously outlined to Jane’s , the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) is looking at a number of new attack helicopter types, including the AH-1Z and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) T129, under a two-phased recapitalisation programme that will see some of its current rotary- and fixed-wing inventory first upgraded, with new platform acquisitions to follow after.

The rotary-winged phase of Phase 1 is already understood to be complete, and involved the RBAF upgrade its fleet of Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. Phase 2 involves the new attack helicopter procurement to augment the upgraded Cobras and replace the Eurocopter BO-105 Bolkow platforms that were first delivered in 1978.

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