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AH-1T Sea Cobra

With increasing demands for higher performance, particularly greater load-carrying capability in high temperature conditions, Bell developed improved dynamic components for the Huey series. Application of these components, which included a larger diameter rotor, led to the experimental Model 309 attack helicopter in the early Seventies. This allowed an increased payload, providing more combat capability. The subsequent Marine-ordered version of the King Cobra was designated the AH-1T.

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) had identified a need for more armaments, thus, the AH-1T upgrade was initiated. This aircraft had an extended tailboom and fuselage and an upgraded transmission and engines. In addition to the modifications for improved combat effectiveness, major efforts were made to incorporate the lessons of the Cobra experience in achieving greater reliability and maintainability. With the TOW missile system added to its weapons, the AH-1T gave Marines a ground attack capability far beyond that first envisioned by their predecessors who took the first Marine Huey Cobras into combat in the late 1960s.

The AH-1T was fully capable of performing its attack mission in all weather conditions. Additional missions included direct air support, antitank, armed escort, and air to air combat. The TOW missile targeting system uses a telescopic sight unit (traverse 110, elevation 60/+30), a laser augmented tracking capability, thermal sights and a FLIR to allow for acquisition, launch, and tracking of all types of TOW missiles in all weather conditions. The Cobra also uses a digital ballistic computer, a HUD, Doppler nav, and a low speed air data sensor on the starboard side for firing, and has in-flight boresighting. External stores are mounted on underwing external stores points. Each wing has two hardpoints for a total of four stations. A representative mix when targeting armor formations would be eight TOW missiles, two 2.75-in rocket pods, and 750x 20-mm rounds. The gun must be centered before firing underwing stores. The armored cockpit was designed to withstand small arms fire, and composite blades and tailboom are able withstand damage from 23-mm cannon hits.




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