The Bell AH-1Z Viper (Sometimes referred to as the "Zulu Cobra" in reference to its variant letter, not to be confused with a Super Cobra aka AH-1W) is a twin-engine Attack Helicopter of the United States Marine Corps. It is an upgraded helicopter, based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, as part of the H-1 upgrade program, which also including upgrades for the UH-1N Twin Hueys to UH-1Y Venom, with the 2 upgraded helicopters sharing many major components. The helicopter is a dedicated weapons system with technology comparable to that of the Army's AH-64 Apache.
The AH-1Z features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, updated transmission, and a new target sighting system.
The AH-1Z in Battlefield 2 is the attack helicopter of the United States Marine Corps. Its MEC, PLA, SEALs/SAS, MECSF/Spetsnaz/Rebel, and EU counterparts are the Mi-28 Havoc, the WZ-10, the AH-64 Apache, the Mi-35 Hind, and the AS-665 Tiger, respectively.
The AH-1Z Viper's main role is to provide close air support for friendly forces, anti-armor, and denying enemy helicopters' operation. It has little capability against fixed-wing aircraft. The helicopter has 2 seats, one for its pilot, and the other for the gunner.
The pilot controls the flight of the helicopter, the LAU-68/M260 rocket pods, and the flare dispensers. The rocket pods contain 8 (14 before v1.2 patch) rockets, with acceptable blast radius and damage. The rockets are effective against infantry, light vehicles, APCs, and all types of aircraft, while taking more than a full barrage to destroy a main battle tank. Flares are used to break off enemy missiles and lock-ons, buying the player some precious time to escape or destroy the target, if possible. The flare dispensers have a recharge time of around 8 seconds, during which the vehicle is completely defenseless against heat-seeking missiles.
The gunner has control of the 20 mm Gatling cannon and Hellfire anti-tank TV-guided missiles. The cannon has a good rate of fire, supplemented by its large magazine and unlimited reserve ammunition, however, it has a 0.5 second spin up time before it can be fired, so if the player want to keep it ready faster, they can repeatedly press the fire button to keep it spinning. The cannon can make short work of infantry, light vehicles, and even aircraft to a degree if they are on the ground. The TV missile, on the other hand, is extremely deadly to all types of vehicles, and it takes only 1 missile to destroy any vehicle. The missile also has a very good blast radius, even larger than those of the pilot's rockets, consequently dealing damage to all targets within 5 meters around the point of impact. And since it is manually guided, the player can use it against ground, sea, or even air target, provided the player is skillful and accurate enough, though this is very difficult, and couple with the missile's low speed, it is still not an effective countermeasure to already-airborne aircraft. However, the player can only fire 1 missile before having to wait 8 seconds for the missile to reload, and they are given only 8 missiles to start off with, meaning the player needs to use the weapon wisely to avoid wasting precious missiles and time. Also, new players may not be familiar with the weapon and may reduce its usefulness.
The vehicle, being a helicopter, can move forward, backward, strafe sideways, and hover in place, with the latter probably is its most useful ability. This allows the player to capture flags, or turning the helicopter into an accurate weapon platform to provide fire support. However, this also makes it more vulnerable to enemy fire, it is not recommended to stay too low in one spot for long, as the player will be an easy target for enemy tank shells, SACLOS missiles, or even TV missiles, all of which deal heavy damage, and anti-aircraft cannon and missile fire, all of which are devastating to the helicopter. The player also needs to bear in mind that the M95 can pierce through the glass of its cockpit, injuring or potentially killing the gunner/pilot. Also, the vehicle does not have any weapon to effectively counter fixed-wing aircraft once they are airborne, and combine with the speed disadvantage, the player should avoid confrontation with them at all cost.
All in all, the vehicle should be used for its intended purpose: provide CAS for friendly ground forces, suppress enemy armor on the battlefield, clearing out control points, and even as an observation platform to report enemy positions to the player's team. If necessary, the player may dogfight other attack helicopters, because they are similar in mobility and speed. With a good pilot and a good gunner, the AH-1Z Viper is extremely devastating to enemy ground vehicles and infantry, and can effectively blunt an armored spearhead.
Compared to its counterparts, it is more oriented toward a general-purpose role, similar to the WZ-10, the AH-64 Apache, and the Mi-35 Hind, while the Mi-28 and the AS-665 Tiger is more inclined towards the anti-armor role. Its size also gives it an advantage, as it is much slimmer than the Mi-28, making it a smaller target to the enemy, but it is still not as compact as the WZ-10. Also, it arguably provides the best visibility to both the gunner and pilot, as both of them enjoy a near-unobstructed view from the cockpit. However, the crew of the AH-1Z Viper is the most vulnerable one compared to those of its counterparts due to its sitting layout, since both the pilot and gunner can potentially be killed with a well aimed shot from an M95, or other weapons that can penetrate the glass of its cockpit.
— Battlelog description
The AH-1Z Viper is featured in Battlefield 3.
A pair of AH-1Z Vipers can be seen flying over the player's unit during the "Thunder Run" and firing volleys of FFAR rockets.
The AH-1Z Viper appears in the mission Fire From The Sky being flown by Gunslinger 5-7 (the unit the two players control) as they provide close air support for Warrior 2-1 as they rescue a General who has been held hostage by the PLR. In this mission, the rocket pods and the cannon have a different firing sound, the cannon also has a slower rate of fire than its multiplayer counterpart.
Player 1 flies the Viper while Player 2 is in the gunner position.
The AH-1Z Viper appears in Battlefield 3, and is available for the USMC team. It features two seats, a pilot and a gunner, with the same roles as in previous games. Its Russian equivalent is the Mi-28 Havoc.
The pilot has access to salvos of 14 unguided FFAR rockets, but can unlock the Guided Rocket specialization to boost accuracy and range, while the gunner has access to the 30mm automatic cannon with 30 rounds per belt.
As with the Russian Mi-28, the AH-1Z is capable of causing devastating damage to enemy armor and infantry. A well-aimed salvo of less than 14 rockets can disable any Main Battle Tank at full health, and the gunner's automatic cannon can decimate infantry with ease.
Thermal Optics allow the gunner to efficiently identify enemy infantry from a greater distance and within foliage, while Zoom Optics allows the gunner to effectively engage targets at greater distances, even outside of enemy man-portable anti-air missiles, such as Stingers and IGLAs.
Proximity Scan, either for the Gunner or Pilot, can detect enemy infantry and vehicles close to the aircraft. This is useful for spotting and engaging enemy infantry, as the pilot simply has to fly over where ever there may be enemy infantry, while the scanner displays them on the minimap. The gunner can then find and target the enemy with great ease.
Guided Missile and TV Missiles give the gunner the ability to engage enemy armor with greater efficiency. The Pilot can attack enemy armor with rockets, while the gunner targets the armor with a Guided Missile. When the Pilot and Gunner are communicating, good tactics to use when engaging armor is to lock-on and fire the missile as soon as the target is within range, then quickly switch to the automatic cannon and finish off the target with help from the pilot's rockets.
TV Missiles are difficult to control during flight, and cannot be aimed before firing. However, a direct hit can cause massive damage to armor, and the missile cannot be defended against by counter-measures. Good communication is vital to effectively use the TV Missile; the Pilot can aim the missile for the Gunner by aiming over the target, and the Gunner then fires and makes slight course corrections if necessary. Practice is also important to be able to effectively use the TV Missile: the Gunner must know when to fire, and know how to steer and keep the missile on course, without over or under steering.
The AH-1Z Viper appears in Battlefield 4.
The pilot's initial default primary weapons are the Hydra Rockets which comes in 7 rockets per per pod (total 14 rockets). The Zuni Rockets, unlocked at 17000 Attack Helicopter Score allows the use of more powerful and damaging rockets however, with an almost halved magazine count. Smart Rockets, unlocked at 38000 Attack Helicopter Score allows a more accurate fire with medium damage, limiting to 5 per pod (10 rockets total) for self-guidance when fired and within optimum proximity of the target. Each respective free-fire rockets share a similar aiming point Heads-Up-Display (HUD) in the form of a capital 'I' shape for target leading and guidance, almost identical to its Battlefield 3 counterparts. Pilots must bear in mind that the primary rocket fire is most effective and accurate when closer to the target, but may leave operators more susceptible to ground fire. All rocket types run on limited reserve ammunition which must be left to automatically replenish for brief moments in time between reloads and firing. The Mi-28 is capable of causing devastating damage to enemy armor and infantry. A well-aimed salvo of rockets can near-instantly deplete any main battle tank to half health.
The Primary and Default weapon of the secondary weapon's gunner is the 20mm M197 automatic cannon, which performs identically with the secondary automatic cannons of the Mi-28 Havoc and WZ-10 respectively. It fires high-explosive rounds dealing splash damage and is most effective against single or clusters of infantry targets, but less effective against vehicles. Unlike its Battlefield 3 counterpart, it too runs on limited reserve ammunition which must be left to automatically replenish for brief moments in time between reloads and firing. The Pilot and Gunner could decide to hover briefly over high-traffic areas of enemy troops to allow easier dispatch quickly of said targets effectively. Both the pilot's primary rockets and the secondary gunner's weapons's reload time can be decreased with the use of the Belt Speed vehicle specialisations.
The AH-1Z Viper's pilot and gunner are given an assortment of Secondary Weapons to choose from. The Pilot's Heat Seekers allows the helicopter to engage enemy aircraft such as other helicopters, Jets or MAVs. For a more ground-attack oriented role, the pilot has the ability to equip the TOW missiles. When combined with a salvo of rocket fire with either before or after striking a target with the secondary TOW missiles, the target can be almost guaranteed to be destroyed within a single pass. The secondary gunner also has the ability to equip an assortment of secondary weapons. Laser Guided missiles allows the targeting and tracking of missiles across a considerable distance of the battlefield to strike targets accurately, although this may give away the position of the operating vehicle. The TV Missile for the gunner grants a remote-controlled missile, able to be manually piloted across the battlefield to strike any targets, both on land, sea or sky without detection until it strikes the target and dealing considerable damage to armored targets. However, the Missiles are difficult to control during flight, and cannot be aimed before firing and its cumbersome controls and difficult aiming is exacerbated if the operator experience high internet-connection latency or packet-loss. It also has the special ability to bypass Active Protection systems as it is identified as a 'vehicle' instead of an 'ammunition' or 'projectile' type object by the game engine. The secondary gunner's weapons and the aircraft pilot can combine both their attacks to devastating effects.
The Secondary gunner has access to an arrangement of optical specialization upgrades such as IRNV Optics or Thermal Optics for better target acquisition and dispatch. The Zoom Optics are unlocked and equipped by default. In Hardcore Game modes, where 3D Spotting is disabled by default, thermal imaging optics are an essential to effectively utilize the helicopter's armaments to its fullest potential.
Thermal Optics allow the gunner to efficiently identify enemy infantry from a greater distance and within foliage, while Zoom Optics allows the gunner to effectively engage targets at greater distances, even outside of enemy man-portable anti-air missiles, such as FIM-92 Stingers and SA-18 IGLAs.
Proximity Scan, either for the Gunner or Pilot, can detect enemy infantry and vehicles close to the aircraft. This is useful for spotting and engaging enemy infantry within close range, as the pilot simply has to hover over where ever there may be enemy targets, while the scanner displays them on the mini-map. The gunner can then find and target the enemy with greater ease. However, users must also bear in mind that this specialisation is useless in Hardcore game modes, as the traditional mini map is largely disabled by default.
The aircraft has an assortment of countermeasures to choose from to protect itself. The IR Flares are both unlocked and equipped by default, ejects multiple bright red flares which spoofs and distracts missile locks and incoming missiles. The ECM Jammer is considered not only more popular by helicopter and aircraft pilots, but also more effective. It can perform many roles the IR Flare is unable to accomplish such as hiding the aircraft from the minimap for a brief period of time, break weapon lock, spoof missiles but also generates glare and a smoke screen against enemies equipped with Thermal or IRNV Optics. Its effects is also known to last much longer than the IR Flares also.
The AH-1Z Viper, along with all Scout and Attack Helicopters, are most effective and dangerous in maps and game modes where a Mobile Anti-Aircraft is not available or when the aircraft's operating team is in control of it only. In such maps and game mode such as Siege of Shanghai, the Attack Helicopter can operate relatively unopposed with the exception of the odd hostile Attack, Transport Helicopter or infantry missile and rocket fire from time to time, with plenty of buildings available for cover when on the retreat. If both pilot or gunner are daring enough, the vehicle operators may choose to discretely enter into the enemy un-capture base (or spawn) in order to hijack the opposing team's Attack Helicopter just as it spawns. This leaves the operating team with exactly 2 Attack Helicopters in possession simultaneously and leaving next to no aerial threats.
In Battlefield 4, AH-1Z is arguably the best attack helicopter in the class. Compare to Mi-28, while sharing the same statistical performance, AH-1Z has a slim shape making it a better choice when engaging combat competitively. Although Z-10W has equally matched shape and cockpit visibility, a faster maximum speed still make AH-1Z become the superior choice in the aerial combat.
- On the Xbox 360 version, there is an Easter egg in the gunner's seat: the control lever on the right has a D-pad and the Xbox buttons A, B, and Y.
- Unlike its Battlefield 3 counterpart, the AH-1Z Viper has back-lit and visible instrument panels.