January 2, 2010: Pakistan wants more helicopter gunships, in particular it wants 20 AH-1W models, to supplement, and replace the 32 AH-1S and AH-1F gunships. The 6.6 ton W model is a major upgrade, developed by the U.S. Marine Corps. The W model was configured for naval use, and has two engines and protection against sea water corrosion.
Meanwhile, the major user of the AH-1W, the U.S. Marine Corps, is in the process of remanufacturing its AH-1T/W attack helicopter. Most of these aircraft were originally manufactured in the 1970's, with some 44 AH-1W models built in the 1980's. The marines are now upgrading to the AH-1Z, a program that will deliver a much more capable aircraft, but also to have an 84 percent commonality of parts between with their upgraded UH-1 transport models, thus greatly reducing maintenance costs. The goal is to remanufacture 180 AH-1T/W attack helos into AH-1Z Viper models. This upgrade will give the aircraft a new 4 bladed composite rotor system, transmission, strengthened structural components, and modern digital cockpit avionics. The first ones will enter service next year.
Taiwan is the other major user of the AH-1W, having bought 63 of them. It would take five years to get Pakistan the AH-1Ws it wants, unless production is increased, or the marines contribute some of theirs. The AH-1W has a crew of two and is armed with a 20mm, 3 barrel, autocannon (with 750 rounds) and can carry eight TOW missiles or 38 70mm unguided rockets. Typical sorties last about three hours. The Pakistanis are also equipping their gunships with night vision (thermal imaging) equipment.