Bell pitches Viper attack helo to replace Japan’s Cobra copters

By: Mike Yeo November 28, 2018

U.S. Marines perform maintenance checks on an AH-1Z Viper aboard the amphibious transport dock Anchorage. (Sgt. Jamean Berry/U.S. Marine Corps)

TOKYO — American company Bell is promoting its AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter at the Japan International Aerospace Exhibition in Tokyo as its entrant for Japan’s attack helicopter replacement program.

The East Asian U.S. ally is seeking a new helicopter to replace the approximately 70 Bell AH-1S Cobra helos currently in use by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. The country had released a request for information in May seeking a new helicopter.

Speaking to Defense News at the show, retired Lt. Gen. George Trautman, a former U.S. Marine aviator and commander of all Marine Corps aviation who now works as an adviser for Bell, said the company responded to the RFI through the U.S. government with 50 AH-1Z helicopters.

John Woodbery, Bell’s director of global military business development in the Asia-Pacific region, added that the RFI called for an attack helicopter with “marinization and shipboard compatibility,” with Trautman asserting that the AH-1Z can “operate onboard ships far better than the competition.”