SURPLUS US ARMY Bell AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters are being offered to commercial operators for roles including logging and fire fighting.

The aircraft is being marketed, by California based Flight Operations International, with modification and certification being performed by US Helicopter (formerly called UNC Helicopter) in Alabama.

All weapons-related equipment is removed from the AH-1 and civil radios installed, but otherwise the aircraft is little changed. Compared with Army-surplus Bell UH-1s, widely used in the external-lift market, the AH-1 offers increased "hot-and-high" performance, says US Helicopter. The aircraft will lift at least 1,800kg and possibly as much as 2,200kg, says Flight Operations' Rocky Medina.

US Helicopter expects restricted-category certification of the modified AH-1S in early May. The aircraft will sell for $1 million, and four are planned to be available in 1996, Medina says.

The AH-1S already includes the up-rated AlliedSignal T53-703 engine and Bell 212 dynamic system which are being offered to upgrade UH-1s, he says. The helicopter has Kaman infinite-life composite main-rotor blades fitted by the Army.

Source: Flight International