Viper attack helicopters give Marines new weapon for Pacific arsenal
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa — The next time Marines hit a Pacific beach, they will have the most advanced attack helicopter in the world at their backs.
Eight AH-1Z Vipers began arriving at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in late November to permanently replace the service’s aging fleet of AH-1W Super Cobras, Marine officials said, and more are on the way.
Though they have made sporadic appearances in the region over the past few years, this is the Vipers’ first permanent deployment to the Pacific.
The Viper is faster, more powerful and more survivable than its predecessor, said Marine Corps pilots who spoke with Stars and Stripes.
It can also carry more fuel, more weapons and ammunition, and can identify and engage targets from farther away.
According to manufacturer Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., it is the only attack helicopter in the world with a fully integrated air-to-air missile capability.
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