why the Viper AND Apache?


Why do we use both the AH-1Z Viper and AH-64 Apache? Furthermore, why do the Marines use the Viper instead?

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Marines operate with a lot less support than other branches. At the time the apache came out, it required more of a maintenance load than they were willing to take on while the Cobras had a large amount of parts compatibility with other marine helicopters, notably the Huey and it’s variants like the Venom, which simplified supply lines and base needs. It was easier to upgrade the Cobras (Eventually becoming vipers) than it was to update the apache to a marine version and then update logistics to support it.

The Marines are going to be getting a new attack helicopter in the coming years IIRC and just sort of leapfrog the apache entirely.

The military has a long history of wanting slightly different things for slightly different purposes.
Both serve similar roles, though the Apache was built ground up as a tank hunter in Western Europe versus the cobra as an evolution of the UH-1.

The Marines also need a naval variant since they are technically a naval fighting force.
The Apache was not planned as a naval aircraft. It’s possible to modify it to be one, but with the marines smaller numbers, it wasn’t economical. The British have naval Apache variants but you have to really buy in to wanting a naval Apache versus just upgrading the platform you already have.
The naval amphibious role also is reflected in choices like buying blackhawks, or buying super Huey’s. Marines bought more super Huey’s. They’re smaller, and cheaper but a Blackhawk has more capacity and range.

Also the apache serves a weird slot on the army. Since they have no fixed wing combat aircraft, the Apache is their offensive combat.

Well, the Viper’s just an upgraded Cobra, which was the first dedicated Attack Helicopter in the US’ arsenal.

As for why it’s still in use, you gotta think about who uses it.

The Army replaced all their Cobras, so now only the Marines use the Cobra airframe. Why? Well, the Cobra (and by extension Viper) shares a lot of common parts with the UH1-Y Venom, their primary utility helicopter.

That’s right, the USMC still flies the venerable Huey, although heavily upgraded over the years. Why? Well, Venomthe is designed to operate off carriers, and designing a new helicopter that can do the same (or modifying the Blackhawk) would be expensive, and the Venom does the job adequately.