Marines: October 18, 2001

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The new Marine Corps AH-1Z is a substantial improvement over the current AH-1W. It costs about $11 million and takes 13 months to convert an AH-1W into an AH-1Z, which will have 10,000 flight hours of service life. The Marines are also converting UH-1Ns into UH-1Ys, which will use 85% of the same components as the AH-1Z. Improvements include a new four-bladed rotor, crashworthy seats, two T700-401 turboshaft engines, new gearboxes, a fully-integrated glass cockpit, and a digital targeting system. Workload for the AH-1W crew has steadily increased as new weapons and sensors were added; the glass cockpit of the AH-1Z will reduce this workload. The AH-1Z has a maximum takeoff weight of 18,500 pounds, compared to 14,750 pounds for the AH-1W. In attack configuration, the AH-1W could only attack targets within 38 nautical miles of the carrier; the AH-1Z will have a combat radius of 125 miles, and can stay on station for 30 minutes and still have a 20-minute reserve. The AH-1Z has a longer-range third-generation forward looking infrared radar, which allows it to identify targets at two or three times the range at which the earlier FLIR on the AH-1W could, increasing its survival. The AH-1Zs new FLIR uses large-diameter optics and five-axis stabilization to provide unprecedented target recognition. The new AH-1Zs are to enter fleet service in 2006. The Marines have 194 AH-1Ws and plan to convert 180 of these into AH-1Zs.--Stephen V Cole

 


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