The U.S. Marine COprs has announced that Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 received its first set of new attack helicopters earlier this year. The AH-1Z Viper, also known as Zulu, replaced its predecessor, the AH-1W Super Cobra, as the Marine Corps’ primary aircraft for defense.
The Vipers are equipped with modern upgrades that allow it to be more reliable and efficient in combat.
“It looks pretty similar to the old Whiskey-model, but everything on the inside is completely different,” said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Chase “Lolo” Laurita, HMLA-773, Director of Safety and Standardization. “All the avionics are behind a glass cockpit. It basically looks like a small tablet or computer screen, so the interface with the pilot is much simpler. The image is outstanding, and the new system allows us to see targets much clearer.”
The Vipers sport six hard-wing stubs along with larger engines and bigger fuel tanks, all of which give it the ability to fly faster and for longer distances, carry more ordinance and ultimately have a longer time on-station to be able to support ground forces.
“What I see the Zulu doing here, at JBMDL, is increasing the Reserve component of the Marine Corps’ capability in the Northeast,” said Laurita. “I’ve been flying attack helicopters now for seven years, and it’s been a long time coming to finally get a new aircraft. It is very fulfilling for me just to be able to be a part of that legacy and be a part of something new.”
One AH-1W Super Cobra remains on the flight line and is intended to replace the current static display in front of the Marine Aircraft Group 49 building.
“It’s a morale builder for the Marines,” said Laurita. “Every time they walk into that building, they’ll see the aircraft that they worked on and it will sustain the legacy of the AH-1 Whiskey Cobra in the Marine Corps.”