Nigeria cleared to buy AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters but armed with rockets instead of Hellfire missiles

Nigeria cleared to buy AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters but armed with rockets instead of Hellfire missiles

By Dario Leone
Apr 16 2022
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The Biden administration has cleared the potential sale of 12 Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters to Nigeria. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on the Foreign Military Sale on Apr. 14, 2022.

The Biden administration has cleared the potential sale of 12 Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters to Nigeria. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on the Foreign Military Sale on Apr. 14, 2022.

As highlighted by Alert 5, the Pentagon mentioned in Transmittal No 22-24 that it will sell 2,000 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guidance sections under the sale package along with the M197 20mm cannon. This means Nigeria will not be able to equip the rotorcraft with AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles.

As reported by Defense Debrief, if a definitive agreement will be reached, $25M of case funds will be allocated for institutional and technical assistance to the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to continue the air ground integration (AGI) program, which includes developing targeting processes that are legally compliant with International Humanitarian Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict.

In fact, according to Transmittal No 22-24, ‘Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Nigeria for mobile training teams and contract logistics support. The case will include special training on the law of armed conflict and human rights, and air-to-ground integration to minimize civilian harm in air operations. This proposed sale will also require multiple trips by U.S. Government and contractor representatives to participate in program and technical reviews plus training and maintenance support in country, on a temporary basis, for a period of five (5) years.’

The total estimated program cost is $997 million and the DoD says the sale will be a major contribution to US and Nigerian security goals.

The AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter provides rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, anti-air, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support coordination capabilities under day/night and adverse weather conditions.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) replaced the two-bladed AH-1W Super Cobra with the AH-1Z Viper, which features a new, four-bladed composite rotor system, performance-matched transmission, four-bladed tail rotor, upgraded landing gear and a fully integrated glass cockpit. The AH-1Z is equipped with an integrated advanced fire control system and the capacity to support multiple weapons configurations.

Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Clare J. McIntire / U.S. Marine Corps


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Dario Leone

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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