The United States Marine Corps, USMC, have officially retired the Bell AH-1W “Super Cobra” after more than 30 years of service to be replaced by the Bell AH-1Z Viper.
AH-1Ws remanufactured into AH-1Z Vipers will continue to serve in the United States Marines. The four-bladed Viper replaces the Super Cobra as the successor to the modern attack helicopter platform and provides fully-integrated air-to-air and anti-armor capabilities designed to successfully accomplish the broadest array of contemporary missions.
The iconic dual-blade aircraft served as the dedicated attack helicopter for the Marines through multiple campaigns, including Operation Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.
“The AH-1W Super Cobra has served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of on-time, on-target attack helicopter support for our Marines,” said Col. David Walsh, the program manager for Light/Attack Helicopter Programs (PMA-276). “Although the AH-1W chapter is closing, the AH-1Z Viper stands ready with even greater capability to support our Marines for years to come.”
Originally designated as the AH-1T+, the Super Cobra first flew on November 16, 1983 at Bell’s Flight Research Center in Arlington, Texas. Bell delivered the first AH-1Ws to the Marines on March 27, 1986 and delivered the final aircraft in 1999, for a domestic fleet of 179 attack helicopters. Through August 2020, the USMC flew the Super Cobra for 933,614 hours.
“We are tremendously proud of the capabilities the AH-1W has brought to the United States Marines for the past 34 years,” said Michael Deslatte, H-1 Bell Program Manager. “The Super Cobra’s tremendous legacy is a testament to the excellence and dedication the men and women at Bell put into these platforms for generations and we look forward to continuing that legacy for years to come.”