Military Aviation

Brazilian Army could get surplus USMC AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters

The U.S. recently announced plans to sell surplus AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters through the Foreign Military Sale or Direct Commercial Sale route

The Brazilian Army has told Jane’s that it has initiated contact with the U.S. government on buying surplus US Marine Corps (USMC) AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters.

No government-to-government talks have yet been scheduled.

As already reported, the U.S. recently announced plans to sell surplus Super Cobras through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) or Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) route. The type remains a valuable combat platform and the aircraft could be ready for delivery quickly as well as integrate modern avionics.

Having entered service with the USMC in 1986, the AH-1W is a highly capable variant of the Vietnam War-era AH-1 Cobra that is still in global service with countries such as Bahrain, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey. The surplus SuperCobras could either boost some of these existing fleets, or provide a new dedicated rotary-attack capability to a new customer such as the Brazilian Army.

Powered by twin General Electric T700-GE-401 engines, the AH-1W has a top speed of 147 kt, a range of 256 n miles (474 km), and a service ceiling of 18,700 ft (limited to 10,000 ft by oxygen requirements), all in a basic combat configuration.

With a maximum take-off weight of 6,697 kg, the platform is equipped with a nose-mounted 20 mm Gatling-gun with 750 rounds, and has four external wing stations that can fire 70 mm and 127 mm rockets, TOW and Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and Sidearm anti-radiation missiles. It is equipped with a night targeting system/forward looking infrared radar that provides laser range-finding/designating and camera capabilities.

The AH-1W is being replaced by the AH-1Z, starting in 2006 as part of a remanufacture program. The Last AH-1W is expected to be replaced in 2020. AH-1Ws are fielded in Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadrons, or HMLAs, along with the UH-1N. Detachments from HMLAs deploy as part of the task-organized Aviation Combat Element of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force, the most common of which is the Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU.

Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Christian Cachola / U.S. Marine Corps

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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