1-Dec-2010 Source: US Navy
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — The U.S. Marine Corpsâ€™ AH-1Z Cobra was approved for full rate production Nov. 28.
The H-1 program office received official word on the milestone III approval decision from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, Dr. Ashton B. Carter through an acquisition decision memorandum.
“This is the culmination of a lot of focused hard work by a lot of dedicated professionals,” said Col. Harry Hewson, the Marines’ program manager for light and attack helicopter programs. “We spent the past two years executing a very detailed risk reduction program that tested every part of the weapons and fire control system on the AH-1Z. It performed very well in operational test last spring and I am confident that it will do as well in combat as the UH-1Y is doing right now in Afghanistan. The next phase of this program is getting the Zulu into the hands of the fleet and into combat. The Zulu is going to give the Marines on the ground a whole new level of long range targeting and precision firepower for close air support.”
After completing operational testing this summer, the AH-1Z was determined to be operationally effective and suitable, a finding that is a prerequisite to the full rate production decision.
“Getting the Zulu into full rate production is very important for the Marines and for our Nation,” said Rear Adm. Steve Eastburg, Program Executive Officer for Air, Assault and Special Mission Programs. “Both the UH-1Y and AH-1Z deliver superb combat effectiveness to the Marine warfighter. We continue to build in production cost efficiencies to ensure that the taxpayer is getting the most for every dollar spent.”
The AH-1Z Cobra helicopters are part of the Marine Corpsâ€™ H-1 Upgrade Program. The programâ€™s goal is to replace AH-1W helicopters with new and remanufactured AH-1Z which provide significantly greater performance, supportability and growth potential over their predecessors.
A total of 189 new and remanufactured AH-1Z helicopters are anticipated, with deliveries expected to be complete by the end of 2021.
The AH-1Z is expected to achieve initial operating capability and embark on its first deployment in 2011.
The AH-1Z and the UH-1Y, the Marine Corpsâ€™ combat utility helicopter, are 84 percent identical. The UH-1Y was approved for full rate production in 2008.