Iranian Army to begin operational trials of indigenously upgraded AH-1 Cobra
Iran is to begin operational trials of an indigenously upgraded AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, it has emerged.
According to the Iranian FARS news agency, the 'homemade' Cobras will take place in wargames involving the army's airborne unit 'in the near future.'
Brig Gen Kioumars Heidari told FARS that the aircraft was an 'advanced generation of the Model 209' and was fitted with 'different types of home-made calibre guns, rockets and missiles.'
Iran's Cobra's were purchased in the 1970s during the Shah's rule. Some 202 examples of the AH-1J were bought, but only around 60 were capable of firing the TOW anti-tank missile.
Few details are known about the updated aircraft, but the work may have been carried out by Iran's Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).
The Cobras have been subjected to a number of modifications over the last decade.
One programme reportedly called 'Toufan' (Storm) carried out by Iranian Helicopter Support and Renewal Company (Panha) introduced improvements to the cockpit and communications system while another has introduced a EO/IR system underneath the fuselage of the non-TOW firing Cobras.
Iran has a track record of upgrading helicopters. The HESA Shahed 278 is a lightweight four-seater single-engined helicopter for use by the Iranian military and other agencies while the Panha Shabaviz 2-75 is an update of the Agusta-built Model 205s purchased before the 1979 revolution.
Source: By Tony Osborne in London / Shephard News Team - 25 May 2012
Photo: The Iranian Army AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter