AN ISRAELI AIR FORCE prototype of the Bell Helicopter Cobra AH-1S, re-engined with a version of the General Electric T-700-701C, is due to start demonstration flights before the end of the year.

The air force has decided to replace the original Avro-Lycoming T-53 engines to improve the Cobra's performance and to achieve engine commonality with its McDonnell Douglas AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky AH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

The project is being carried out under an agreement signed between GE and the Mata helicopter plant of Israel Aircraft Industries. Mata will work on the airframe, while GE will modify an existing Israeli air force T-700 engine by adapting the control system and by changing the accessory gearbox to permit the use of a starter-generator for compatibility with the AH-1S.

According to the Jaffe institute for strategic studies in Tel Aviv, the air force has 40 Cobra AH-1G/1S. The re-engineing of each will cost about $1 million.

Source: Flight International