The Bell AH-1Z Super Cobra attack helicopter will get an important new capability following the announcement here of an agreement between Bell Helicopter and Longbow International to equip the type with millimetre-wave radar technology.

Addition of the Cobra Radar System (CRS) will intensify the head-to-head competition with Boeing's AH-64D Apache Longbow as a number of potentially lucrative attack helicopter contests loom.

The system is intended for international sale and will significantly enhance the fighting, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the AH-1Z. It comprises a pod-based millimetre-wave radar that can be mounted on the wingtip or a stores position, and will be integrated with the existing M299 launcher and AGM-114 RF Hellfire fire-and-forget missile.

CRS is designed to automatically search, detect, classify and prioritise multiple moving and stationary targets on land and in the air, in adverse weather and on an obscured battlefield.

"The addition of the CRS acts as a force-multiplier for the AH-1Z," says Jim Puritz, programme manager at Lockheed Martin, which is teamed with Northrop Grumman in the Longbow International joint venture. "Its integration with the Hawkeye Target Sight System and the Hellfire missile significantly improves the platform¹s combat effectiveness."

The upgrade is expected to be attractive to Turkey, which has already selected the AH-1Z to meet its requirement for 145 attack helicopters. It also positions the AH-1Z for a number of major procurement competitions.Japan¹s long-awaited AH-X requirement is for up to 100 helicopters and will see the Super Cobra pitched against the Apache and possibly a light-attack version of the indigenous Kawasaki OH-2. The buy might end up as a mix of AH-1Zs or AH-64Ds, with a longer-term commitment to buy OH-2s.South Korea is also in the market for more than 30 attack helicopters, with the Apache and the Super Cobra likely to face competition from the Eurocopter Tiger and the Kamov Ka-52.

Source: Flight Daily News