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The AH-1W Super Cobra Has Been Retired From the Marine Corps after 34 Years of Service

The iconic helicopter gunship has stood down from the Marine Corps to be replaced by the much-improved AH-1Z.

By Thomas Newdick October 19, 2020

The curtain has finally come down on one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ most battle-hardened helicopters. The branch has officially retired the Bell AH-1W Super Cobra from its ranks, after over three decades of service that included combat operations during Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, among other campaigns.

An official final flight for the AH-1W took place at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 14, 2020, as part of the “Whiskey Sundown Ceremony.” This also included a photo sortie over New Orleans together with its successor, the AH-1Z Viper. The last “Whiskey” sortie was performed by Detachment A of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773, the “Red Dogs,” part of the Reserve Forces, based at New Orleans.

As the U.S. Marine Corps’ premier attack helicopter, the Super Cobra’s career included 933,614 flight hours as of August 2020, according to a press release from the service.

“The AH-1W Super Cobra has served admirably and leaves a remarkable legacy of on-time, on-target attack helicopter support for our Marines,” said Marine Corps Colonel David Walsh, the program manager for Light/Attack Helicopter Programs (PMA-276). “Although the AH-1W chapter is closing, the AH-1Z Viper stands ready with even greater capability to support our Marines for years to come.”

“We are tremendously proud of the capabilities the AH-1W has brought to the United States Marines for the past 34 years,” added Michael Deslatte, H-1 Bell Program Manager. “The Super Cobra’s tremendous legacy is a testament to the excellence and dedication the men and women at Bell put into these platforms for generations and we look forward to continuing that legacy for years to come.”

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