BEIRUT — Textron subsidiary Bell has completed the first of 12 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters for Bahrain, delivering it to U.S. Naval Air Systems Command as part of a 2019 Foreign Military Sales contract.

The sale, worth $911.4 million, was first announced during the 2018 Bahrain International Airshow.

The helicopter will be prepared for shipment to Bahrain with the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency before being transported to the customer in 2022.

The AH-1Z was designed by Bell for the U.S. Marine Corps. It has a fully integrated glass cockpit and can carry a wide variety of munitions.

Joel Best, who is Bell’s lead for global military sales and strategy, told Defense News earlier this year that the service “has successfully demonstrated in flight testing a two-way connection between the AH-1Z Viper helicopter and a ground station using Link 16 hardware and software.”

“Programs like Link-16 will enable operators to obtain information from its sensors; manage that information using onboard digital architecture; and then share the information, which would give an AH-1Z armed with an AIM-9 air-to-air weapon. The service anticipates AH-1Z initial fleet integration with Link 16 in 2022,” Best told Defense News about the updates on AH-1Z helicopters.

Bahrain contributes to international counterterrorism efforts in the Arabian Gulf as well as defense against nearby Iran.

Agnes Helou is a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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