AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with Bell Textron Inc. recently celebrated the delivery of the 189th AH-1Z Viper to the US Marine Corps during a ceremony at the company’s Amarillo Assembly Center.
According to a news release from the company, this delivery served as the completion of the Program of Record for the H-1 platform for the US Marine Corps, resulting in more than 300 total aircraft. Bell has been producing H-1s for the military since 1959 and for the US Marine Corps since 1962.
“The first production lot of US Marine Corps H-1s was ordered in 1962, and they changed the way Marines fight today,” Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 vice president and program director, said in the release. “Completing the AH-1Z and UH-1Y deliveries to the US Marine Corps adds one more chapter to the legacy of the H-1 platform.”
The H-1 was originally designed by Bell for the US Army with “Huey.” According to the release, Bell created the AH-1 Cobra as the first dedicated gunship in 1966 while in 1984, the AH-1W brought the US Marine Corps increased the capability of attack helicopters. Officials said that H-1s continue to be a part of the US Marine Corps aviation plan in 2022.
“With the US program of record now complete, the Marines have the flexibility to manage and deploy the helicopters based on current and future mission requirements as established at the start of the program,” Col. Vasillios Pappas, Light/Attack Helicopters program manager (PMA-276), said in the release.
Officials with Bell said in the release that the H-1 production line continues to be active in support of foreign military sales to various US allies, including the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Czech Republic. The company is going to support US H-1 aircraft with “lethality, survivability and reliability upgrades through a long-term modernization plan.”
Mike Deslatte, Bell VP and H-1 Program Director said “It is truly the end of a tremendous body of work for our men and women in our facility here in Amarillo. With the foreign military sales on the H-1, we continue to utilize the same skilled employees that have built the Marine Corps aircraft for our military customers.”
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