In December 1971, Bell signed a contract for $708 million USD with the Imperial Iranian government to deliver 287 Model 214 Huey utility helicopters, and 202 improved AH-1J Cobra gunships. The improved Cobra, known as the International AH-1J, that resulted from this contract featured an uprated P&WC T400-WV-402 engine and stronger drive train to support 1,675 horsepower continuous. Recoil damping gear was fitted to the 20mm gun turret, and the gunner was given a stabilized sight and even a stabilized chair. 62 of the International AH-1Js delivered to the Shah's forces were TOW-capable, while the rest were not.
The Bell AH-1 Cobra (company designation: Model 209) is a two-bladed, single engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It shares a common engine, transmission and rotor system with the older UH-1 Iroquois. The AH-1 is also referred to as the HueyCobra or Snake.
The AH-1 was the backbone of the United States Army's attack helicopter fleet, but has been replaced by the AH-64 Apache in Army service. Upgraded versions continue to fly with the militaries of several other nations. The AH-1 twin engine versions remain in service with United States Marine Corps (USMC) as the service's primary attack helicopter. Surplus AH-1 helicopters have been converted for fighting forest fires. The United States Forest Service refers to their program as the Firewatch Cobra. Garlick Helicopters also converts surplus AH-1s for forest firefighting under the name, FireSnake.
Iranian AH-1Js saw service during the Iran-Iraq War, but because of a lack of spares the fleet was reported grounded by 1990. The Iranian government initiated an program to bring these aircraft back online. The Shabaviz 209-1 is an upgrade program of the AH-1J Cobra attack helicopters acquired during the 1970s by the Shah of Iran.
The Shabaviz 209-1 program is one of many conducted by the state helicopter manufacturer Panha and the state aircraft company HESA, aimed at developing self-sufficiency in industry, primarily military industry, as well as sustaining the existing Iranian fleet. In addition to service life extension, the upgrades have also made the helicopter's systems compatible with the Toophan ATGM, a derivative of the US BGM-71 TOW missile. It is not clear how many AH-1J remained to be upgraded, but aircraft were displayed during exercises in 2006 and 2007.
The IAIO Toufan or Toophan (Persian: "typhoon") is series of combat helicopters "produced" by the Iran Aviation Industries Organization. Seemingly a rebuild of the 'Bell AH-1 Cobra' designed in the United States in the 1960s the Toofan is produced in two variants, the Toufan I unveiled in May 2010 was followed by the improved Toufan II unveiled on January 2013.
In January 2013, Iran unveiled a helicopter that was either derived from the AH-1J International Cobra or simply an upgrade of such aircraft already in Iranian inventory. Most notably the helicopter featured a new sensor turret. The name given was Toufan 2, which was confusing as this was also the name applied to Iran's BGM-71 TOW missile derivative, though the missile's name had generally been transliterated as Toophan. It was unclear whether this was an extension or replacement for the Shabaviz 209-1 upgrade program.
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