Armed Forces

AH-1Z Viper to be Premiered in Kielce

AH-1Z Viper / Zulu
Photo. Maciej Szopa/Defence24

Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter is going to be showcased during the 30th edition of the MSPO event in Kielce. found out, off-the-record, that the said aircraft would be a part of the exhibition staged by the US military. Contrary to the AH-64 Apache, never have aircraft as such been presented in Kielce, let alone Poland. Both types are offered in the Polish Kruk procurement programme, regarding the acquisition of attack helicopters for the Polish Land Forces.

Viper helicopters are a rare treat in Europe, as they are used, primarily, by the US Marine Corps. This makes any demonstration as such complicated, as the Marines’ European presence is less pronounced than that of the US Army. Nonetheless, the USMC has recently been engaged in an exercise in Finland. So far Viper has been presented during the NATO Days event in Ostrava - when it comes to the CEE region.

Back in 2019, the Czech Republic decided to procure 4 AH-1Z Vipers and 8 UH-1Y Venom helicopters. Both types exhibit commonality at the level of 85% which diminishes the LCC. This has been one of the reasons why the Czech Republic decided to procure the aforesaid duo, replacing the Post-Soviet Mi-24/35 helicopters.

Prague announced on 19th August, that it has negotiated delivery of extra 6 AH-1Z Vipers, and 2 UH-1Y Venoms, within the framework of the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) programme that makes it possible to transfer equipment decommissioned by the US military to the allies. The above would translate into a major boost to the operational capabilities of the Czech military - with 10 aircraft of each type at hand.

In Poland, as the off-the-record information suggests, RFIs are soon going to be sent to the US, regarding both the AH-64E Apache Guardian, as well as the AH-1Z Viper, concerning the Kruk programme. Approach as such would make it possible to choose the best offer. A solution as such has also been suggested by Minister Błaszczak back in April - when he was visiting the United States, he also mentioned two possible bids for the Kruk procurement.

AH-1Z Viper has been developed in line with the set of requirements defined by the USMC. The aircraft features modular avionics, III-gen. thermal imaging system by Lockheed Martin, and Top Owl helmets with Thales HMSD. Viper has been fitted with a glass cockpit featuring digital MFDs, and a HOCAS system.

Both pilots can carry out all procedures and execute all functions, including the use of the three-barrel 20 mm cannon and the payload carried on 6 external pylons, such as the AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, and 70 mm APKWS guided rockets, 70 mm unguided Hydra rockets, and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. Viper has major capabilities in the air-to-air department. The aircraft is modern in its design, offers good performance, and can be maintained over extended periods, with limited maintenance assets available in field conditions.