AH-1Z Viper: Why Nigeria is opting for the US-made stealth attack helicopter

Nigeria wishes to upgrade its military by purchasing the AH-1Z Viper, one of the world’s most advanced attack helicopters. The order is in the billions of dollars. Is it, however, a good fit?

The AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter built for the US Marine Corps and based on the AH-1W SuperCobra. It’s a multiple missions attack helicopter.

The AH-1Z Viper
The AH-1Z Viper

The AH-1Z Viper features cutting-edge dynamics, armaments, and avionics to provide the best in survivability. It engages and defeats the largest variety of threats at standoff ranges that transcend conception, thanks to its anti-armor capability.

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Is it, however, the perfect attack helicopter for the Nigerian military?

Yes it is. The requirement to positively identify friend from foe and then attack hostile targets with precision bombs to minimise or eliminate collateral damage to civilian individuals and property is the number one problem facing military forces on today’s battlefields.

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Positive identification and target engagements must be conducted at ranges that leave the aircraft well outside the effective range of enemy fire to provide our troops the best chance of survival on the battlefield. THIS CHALLENGE CAN ONLY BE MET BY THE AH-1Z VIPER!

And this is why the Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who spoke during a signing ceremony for a $2.1 billion development assistance agreement with the US at the Aso Villa in Abuja last year said, “although Super Tucanos have been delivered, we’re looking forward to the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters as well.”

Of course, everyone knows what the attack helicopter would bring to the table.

The all-new AH-1Z attack helicopter combines the most advanced military avionics, weapons systems, electro-optical sensor systems, and rotary wing technology to create a fully integrated weapons platform capable of locating and identifying targets at unprecedented ranges, engaging those targets with precision munitions, and surviving on both urban and conventional battlefields.

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The AH-1Z Viper will no doubt boost the fight against insecurity, especially in the North East and the North Western parts of the country because of its superiority to the Super Tucanos we’re used to.

An upgraded Target Sighting System [TSS] with third generation FLIR allows positive target recognition in practically all weather conditions at ranges that surpass the onboard weapons systems’ maximum range in an era where distinguishing friend from adversary has become an absolute necessity. Hell firemissiles, 2.75 inch rockets, 20mm cannon, and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles are among the organic weaponry systems available, allowing for precise ground and air-to-air target engagements.

See weapons capabilities of the attack helicopter below;

  • • AGM-114A, B, and C Hellfire and anti-tank missiles with a total of 16 missiles
  • • Up to 16 AGM-114F Hellfire anti-ship missiles
  • • 70mm Rockets with 19 or 7 shot pods for a total of 76 rockets
  • • Sidewinder AIM-9 (A superior supersonic air-to-air missile with infrared target detection for fire and forget capability.)
  • • Mk 77 fire bombs • LUU-2A/B nocturnal illumination flare
  • • 20-millimeter cannon (It can handle M50-series rounds developed primarily for air-to-air warfare due to its higher muzzle velocity and flatter trajectory for better accuracy.)
  • MK 76 practice bombs, BDU-33D/B practice bombs, and MK 106 practice bombs are all available.
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The AH-1Z Viper will serve a primary role in assault support, offensive air support, and air reconnaissance. The attack helicopter will also be playing supporting roles in anti-air warfare, electronic warfare, and aircraft and missile control.

Manufactured for the US Department of Defense by Bell Helicopter, the AH-1Z is the most capable and lethal armed helicopter in the world.

Read more about the AH-1Z Viper HERE.

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