Drawing: Cobra Drawing: Cobra

Red Line Marine Corps News
Story Date: 12 October 2010
Author: Lance Cpl. Lisa M. Tourtelot
Unit: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Red Line

Cobras upgraded to join “modern day fight”

Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California — Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, “Scarface,” received three new AH-1Z Cobra helicopters at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in September.

The AH-1Z is an upgrade to the AH-1W Cobra helicopters currently in use by the Marine Corps.

“The upgrades to the aircraft help the guy on the ground. The glass cockpit makes it easier for the pilot,” said Maj. Jeff M. Sykes, a pilot with HMLA-367.

Sykes has flown three combat deployments and participated in the AH-1Z testing. The Cobra upgrades include a glass cockpit to improve pilot situational awareness, increased weapons payload, an improved targeting system, a significant amount of parts and equipment that can be shared with the UH-1Y Huey aircraft, and increased operational flight range. The new AH-1Z Cobra and UH-1Y Huey are now approximately 85 percent compatible.

“As far as maintaining the aircraft and parts, it’s a lot easier for us,” said Sgt. Zachary A. Lucas, a flight liner with HMLA-367. “It helps not having to learn two systems. It makes learning the platform a lot easier.”

Another major improvement is the addition of two more rotor blades, which improves the helicopter’s maneuverability. The AH-1Z features a new targeting sensor and sharper field of view for the pilots.

“There’s no more struggling, looking at a poor image. The Cobra is joining the modern day fight,” said Sykes.

With only one AH-1Z helicopter being produced every month and a half, the conversion is expected to be slow.

A full transition is estimated by 2019.

HMLA-367 is planning to debut the new Cobra at a Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment next fall.

The goal of the transition is to increase the aircraft’s mission effectiveness and survivability, as well as improve its overall performance.

The AH-1Z Cobra marks a significant improvement for both the aviators and the ground crew.

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Updated: 23 January 2013
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