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AH-1 Super Cobra

The AH-1 is an American attack helicopter, developed by the American company Bell Helicopter in 1966. There have been manufactured 1100 heli's for the US Marines Corps.
The AH-1 was design and manufactured due to a requirement of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for a new attack helicopter for close air support and as an escort by ground operations. Such kind of support is necessary by amphibious exercises and operations. The Cobra was developed for close air support, anti-tank, armored surveillance and air-to-air combats. The Cobra can also be armored with TOW wire-guided air-to-surface missiles. The Cobra is often seen in American war movies.


Prime contractor Bell Helicopter
Primary task Amphibious air-to-ground/surface attack
Type aircraft Attack helicopter
Length 17,8 meters (58ft, 3 in)
Height 4,37 meters (14 ft, 4 in)
Width 4,60 meters (15 ft, 1 in) blades folded
Engines 2x General Electric T700-GE-401 turboshaft (AH-1W)
2x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft (AH-1Z)
1x Sundstrand APU (AH-1Z)
Power 1690 shp / 1300 kW each engine (-401)
1800 shp / 1340 kW each engine (-401C)
Rotor blades 4 Main Rotor, 4x Tail Rotor
Main Rotor diamater 14,63 meters (48 ft)
Main Rotor rpm  
Weight (empty) 5591 kg / 12300 pounds (AH-1Z)
Weight (maximum) 8409 kg / 18500 pounds (AH-1Z)
Cruise speed 287 km/h 155 kts
Maximum speed  
Maximum vertical speed 14,2 m/s / 2790 ft/min
Ceiling 6096 meters / 20.000 ft
Maximum range 208 km (with 1150kg payload)
125 nm (with 2500 lb payload)
Fuel capacity 1561 liters / 412 gallons
Air-to-air refueling (ATAR) No
Passengers None
Cargo capacity None
External cargo capacity None
Internal dimensions  
Length n.a.
Width n.a.
Height n.a.
Armament - A/A49E-7(V4) 20mm cannon (750 rounds)
- 4x pods of 19x 70mm Rockets
- 16x AGM-114A, B, C, F Hellfire guided missiles
- 6x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles
- 8x TOW (AH-1P)
Maximum weapon load  
Sensors - AN/AAQ Hawkeye Target Sight System
- Target Sight System FLIR
Avionics - Mission Computers
- 6" x 8" Liquid Crystal Multi Function Displays
- 4,2" x 4,2" Liquid Crystal Dual Functionm Displays
- Keyboard Units
- AVR-2A Laser Warning Receiver
- AN/APR-39A Radar Warning receiver
- AN/ALE-47 SMart COuntermeasures Dispenser
- AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Device
- Thales TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight Display
- VHF/UHF AN/ARC-210 Radio with KY-58
- C-11746B(V)3/ARC Intercom
- AN/APX-100(V) IFF system
- Advanced Memory Unit (AMU) Mission Data Loader
- Digital Map System (DMS)
- CN-1689(V2)/ASN Embedded GPS/INS
- ARN-153 TACAN System
- DF-301E VHF/UHF Direction Finder
Type flight controls Mechanical / Hydraulic Automatic Flight Control System (AH-1Z)
Landing gear Skid type landing gear
Optional equipment - LUU-2A/B nighttime illumination flare
- Mk76 practice bombs
- BDU-33D/B practise bombs
- Mk 106 practise bombs
- 77 Gallon External Fuel Tanks
- Goodrich HUMS
Maximum G resistance -0,5 G / +2,8 G
Versions AH-1E, AH-1F, AH-1G, AH-1J, AH-1P, AH-1S, AH-1T, AH-1W, AH-1Z
Manufactured +/- 2000
Crew 2
Overall flight hours 10000 (AH/1Z)
First flight Prototype - 1965
AH-1J - 1969
AH-1W - 1983
AH-1Z - 2000
Operational since AH-1 - 1967
AH-1Z - 2010
Successor of AH-65A
Comparable helicopter  
Operators (past, current and future) US Marine Corps, US Army, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, South-Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey
Main operators US Marine Corps, Japan, Israel
Amphibious usage US Marine Corps
Status In operational service, in production

The Cobra can be equipped with: 1x 20mm canon (750 rounds a minute), 4 external wing rocket systems of 2.75 inch/5.0 inch which have a broad capacity of precision guided missiles like TOW and Hellfire anti-tank missiles. It can also be armored with Sidewinder (air-to-air missile) and the Sidearm (against enemy radar).

- On November 2nd, 2005 a AH-1W Cobra from the USMC crashed near the Iraqi city Ramadi. 2 Marines died. The crew members were assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The AH-1 is in service with the United States Marine Corps (1)
, Turkey (2) Taiwan (3) Israel (4), Jordan (5), South-Korea (6) and Pakistan (7).

2. Turkey
The Turkish Army is equipped with:
- 9 AH-1W Super Cobra's
- 32 AH-1P/S Cobra's

3. Taiwan
The Army of Taiwan has 63 AH-1W Super Cobra's divided over 2 squadrons.

7. Pakistan

Since 1984, the Army of Pakistan has 20 AH-1F Cobra's. These can be equipped with TOW and TOW-II air-to-ground missiles, 2.75 inch rocket pods and the M197 3-barrel 20mm board canon. In 2007 , 16 AH-1F heli's were added as part of a 5-year delivery of 40 extra Cobra's. All heli's can be used at night thanks to their night vision goggle system. The heli's are also equipped with a infra-red electronic protection system against IR-missiles.
The cold air is mixed with the gas of the exhaust to decrease the Temperature (and noise) to be less vulnerable against enemy heat-seeking missiles.

The Pakistan cobra's are used in the region with the border of Afghanistan for operations against militias. They are a deadly and effective weapon but also vulnerable for hand-portable surface-to-air missile like the Stingers which were left in Afghanistan after the war against the Soviet Union.

As a possible replacer, the A-129 Mangusta, AH-1Z, Mi-28 Havoc are favorites.

Israeli AH-1 Israeli AH-1 USMC AH-1W
Civil TAH-1 Turkish Army AH-1W  
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Last updated: October 21, 2012