The attack helicopter was manufactured at Bell's facility in Amarillo, Texas, and following its acceptance, the AH-1Z was flown to MCAS Camp Pendleton by Col Nathan 'Mog' Marvel - the officer commanding Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG-39) - where it will be operated by Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303 (HMLAT-303) 'Atlas'. This latest and final hand over marks a major milestone for the USMC as it completes the delivery process that was outlined by the service in the type's program of record (POR).
After delivering the final AH-1Z Viper to Camp Pendleton, Col Marvel said: "The completion of the H-1 Program of Record delivery is a momentous event for Marine Aviation. By no means is this the end of an era – it is the next chapter in the great legacy of the H-1 and the US Marine Corps.”
Along with the AH-1Z, Bell's UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter is also part of the H-1 POR - deliveries of which were completed in 2018. The number of helicopters delivered under the H-1 POR totals 349, comprising 160 UH-1Ys and 189 AH-1Zs. Since the first examples were delivered, both aircraft types have flown more than 450,000 combined flight hours in support of a variety of military operations.
Despite the H-1 POR now being completed for the USMC, the production line remains open to support ongoing Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contracts with US allies and partner nations, including the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Czech Republic.
Bahrain ordered 12 AH-1Z Vipers via an FMS contract, which was announced at the Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) in 2018. The order was worth $911.4m and Bell completed the first Viper for Bahrain in October 2021. The Czech Republic are due a total of 20 H-1 helicopters - a split fleet of ten AH-1Zs and ten UH-1Ys - which are due to start replacing the Czech Air Force’s current fleet of Mi-24V/35 Hind-Es in 2023.