The AH-1Z Viper is the most modern version of the twin-engine Cobra, developed as a replacement for older models in the early 2000s. American aviators and helicopter enthusiasts will have the chance to pilot the Viper in War Thunder with the release of update 1.81 “The Valkyries”!
Briefly: The latest and most modern member of the AH-1 family of attack helicopters, featuring improved mobility and protection, whilst staying as deadly as ever thanks to its ordnance options.
In 1996, the USMC launched the H-1 program in cooperation with the Bell company. The H-1 program was a plan to upgrade and modernize the Navy’s existing fleets of AH-1 and UH-1 helicopters, in order to extend their service life and lower future operating costs. This was achieved by developing a new version of each helicopter model respectively. The new AH-1Z Viper, also known as “ZuluCobra”, received upgraded avionics, fire control systems, engines and an improved four-blade rotor system, among other improvements. Furthermore, both the new Viper and UH-1Y were designed in a way to use mostly identical parts, achieving the desired reduction in operating costs and ease of maintenance as a result. The AH-1Z Viper conducted its maiden flight in December 2000, with three prototypes being built for testing in 2002. Small-scale production began in 2003 before the Viper was approved for full-scale production in November 2010. The USMC has ordered for 189 Vipers to be delivered to the fleet by 2021, with only a few dozen machines being in service today.
In War Thunder, the AH-1Z Viper will be among the top performers of the new American helicopter line and will be available for research to all aspiring commanders of this machine after the release of update 1.81 “The Valkyries”. Though it may still draw some resemblance from its Vietnam-era predecessors, rest assured that the Viper adds a welcome modern flavor to the proven Cobra design.
The most significant changes are thankfully also the easiest to notice as most of them affect the vehicle’s visual appearance. While all naval versions of the Cobra are twin-engine, the AH-1Z Viper is equipped with the most powerful set ever fitted to a Cobra model. As both of the T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines are capable of producing 1,800 horsepower each, this allows the Viper to reach a top speed of 184 mph (296 km/h), making it among the fastest members of the family.
Apart from the engine upgrade, the rotor system also received a significant overhaul. With the Viper now sporting a four-blade rotor instead of the traditional two-blade one, handling got improved, whilst the new composite material of which they’re made of ensured better survivability and resilience against ground fire.
The armament of the AH-1Z Viper should be somewhat familiar to those who have already familiarized themselves with the earlier Cobra modifications we covered in previous devblogs. Besides the three-barreled 20mm rotary cannon under the aircraft’s nose, the machine still allows for external ordnance to be mounted on four hardpoints spread across its two stub wings. While one ordnance option consists of the usual loadout of four Hydra rocket pods, the other one allows pilots to install 16 TOW-2 guided missiles, allowing the Viper to act as a serious threat to enemy armor even at long distances.
Be sure to try out the most modern, and arguably most lethal, modification of the AH-1 ever produced in War Thunder update 1.81 “The Valkyries”. Until then, clear skies and good hunting pilots!