Hellfire Compatible Cobra on Display

The second RJAF Cobra upgraded by SES on display at SOFEX. (David Oliver)

Another sign of the Royal Jordanian Air Force’s (RJAF) wide ranging modernisation programme is the comprehensive upgrade of 12 of its 20 plus extant Bell AH-1F/S Cobras, with one of the first delivered on display at SOFEX 2018. The work is being carried out by Science & Engineering Services (SES) at its Huntsville facility in Alabama.  

Under the contract, SES performs Depot Maintenance Work Requirement (DMWR) inspections of the airframe, tail boom and components after which structural modifications are installed and the aircraft is completely rewired. Once completed, a new glass cockpit is installed based on the Northrop Grumman Integrated Avionics System used in the US Marine Corps’ AH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper, and the US Army’s upgraded UH-60V Black Hawk. The instrumentation includes two L-3 multifunction screens and a single Rockwell Collins flight instruments screen.

An L3 Wescam MD-15D multi-sensor multispectral targeting system replaces the original laser range finder and tracker. A passive self defence suite comprising the Orbital ATK AAR-47 missile approach warning (MAW) system and active countermeasures including the Extant Aerospace ALE-47 chaff/flare dispensers are installed.

The AH-1F/S Cobras were Raytheon BGM-71 TOW-compatible versions of the Cobra. The SES upgrade includes Lockheed Martin M310 AGM 114R Hellfire launchers in addition to seven or 19-round 70mm unguided rocket launchers. The RJAF plan to install software later for the use of the BAE Systems Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) when the last of the upgraded Cobras are delivered at the end of the year.

The Lockheed Martin M310 Hellfire launcher installed on the upgraded RJAF Cobra. (David Oliver)

The SES upgrade is completed with the installation of automatic stabilisation equipment (ASE) and a Rockwell Collins ARC programmable digital communication system. The upgrade cycle from when the aircraft is depopulated to maintenance test flights is eight months.

The upgraded Cobra’s will be operated by No 10 Squadron at King Abdullah Air Base.

by David Oliver