Procurement: Free Gunship Parts


January 27, 2010:  In a friendly gesture, Turkey has offered free AH-1 helicopter gunship parts to Pakistan. Turkey uses the twin engine AH-1W gunships, while Pakistan uses the single engine AH-1F model. But both helicopters use lots (over 50 percent) of common parts. Turkey did not mention the amount of spare parts they were contributing, but it is limited to what the Turks can spare. Turkey is currently using it's AH-1s heavily against Kurdish separatists along the Iraq border. The burst of good will has a lot to do with Turkey wanting to build a rail line from Istanbul to Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan), via Iran. Turkey and Pakistan are also largely Sunni Moslem states bordering a fanatical Shia Iran. Pakistan needs all the help it can get when it comes to helicopter gunships, because of its current war against the Taliban.

AH-1F helicopter gunships began getting replaced, in American service, by the AH-64 over two decades ago. The last AH-1F in use by active duty U.S. Army units was in 1999, and the last reserve units replaced them with AH-64s in 2005. The three ton AH-1F is equipped with a three barrel 20mm automatic cannon, and 750 rounds of ammo. Also carried are four TOW, or eight Hellfire missiles. The AH-1F can also carry unguided rockets or Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The AH-1F is also equipped for night operations, has a crew of two and stays in the air for about four hours per sortie. Max speed is about 270 kilometers an hour, and cruising speed is about two-thirds that. The aircraft also carries countermeasures for anti-aircraft missiles.

The seven ton AH-1W is an upgrade of the Vietnam era AH-1. The new model was configured for naval use, and has two engines and protection against sea water corrosion. The major user of the AH-1W, the U.S. Marine Corps, is in the process of doing a major upgrade on its AH-1T/Ws. Most of these aircraft were originally manufactured in the 1970's, with some 44 AH-1W models built in the 1980's. The marines are in the process of remanufacturing 180 AH-1T/W attack helos into AH-1Z Viper models. This upgrade will give the aircraft a new 4 bladed composite rotor system, transmission, strengthened structural components, and modern digital cockpit avionics. The first ones entered service last year.



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