AH-1 Cobra : The Helicopter Nigeria Almost Had.

In 2014 Nigeria had shown interest in buying surplus Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters that were phased out of service by the Israeli air force in 2013, as well as in Israeli-produced unmanned air systems.

Negotiations had been started and the Israeli defence ministry was on track to deliver the initial batch of eight AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter for an undisclosed sum. But days before the scheduled delivery, Israel’s defence ministry ordered them to stop following a request U.S President Barack Obama, evidently still passed at Nigeria’s defiance in its legislation criminalizing same sex relationships

Of course, the excuse given was that the US administration probably does not want to be involved in any way in the domestic war in Nigeria between the nation’s army and Boko Haram militants following reports of human rights abuses carried out by the Nigerian army by Amnesty International.

Israeli sources say Nigeria had also wanted to purchase more Israeli-made UAS. The country in 2006 purchased a number of Aerostar vehicles made by Aeronautics Defense Systems.

The Israeli defence ministry declines to make a statement on the matter, noting: “We never comment on the export of Israeli-made weapon systems.”

The Israeli air force has 37 E, F and S model AH-1s in storage…

Israeli Defense Force AH-1 Cobra and AH-64 Apache.

If the deal had gone through it would have made Nigeria’s attack helicopter fleet one of the most advanced and potent in Africa, bringing new capabilities and features into Nigeria’s attack helicopter fleet. The take away from this helicopter can be summarised into greater fuel capacity, ordnance capabilities and situation awareness. 

Unlike the Russian made Hind (Mi-24/Mil Mi-35), the AH-1, or Cobra as its fondly called, can carry heavier payloads and engage targets from farther away.

A typical weapons load includes 10 Hellfire missiles and TOW wire-guided air-to-surface missiles.

The AH-1 can carry and deploy 16 Hellfire missiles. 

The advanced sensors and turret sight systems, the AH-1 can see threats from much farther out. The turret sight system creates much more in-depth images, which allow pilots to pin point ground targets better and get more descriptive accurate pictures.

A USMC AH-1 Cobra helicopter.
AH-1 Cobra M28 turret w/M134 7.62mm minigun.

Though the missions capability of this bird is multi-faceted, its primarily optimised for close air support and as an escort by ground operation. Other capabilities include anti-tank, armoured surveillance and air to air combat.


The Cobra can be equipped with: 1x 20mm canon (750 rounds a minute), 4 external wing rocket systems of 2.75 inch/5.0 inch which have a broad capacity of precision guided missiles like TOW and Hellfire anti-tank missiles. It can also be armored with Sidewinder (air-to-air missile) and the Sidearm (against enemy radar).
 A/A49E-7(V4) 20mm cannon (750 rounds)

– 4x pods of 19x 70mm Rockets

– 16x AGM-114A, B, C, F Hellfire guided missiles

– 6x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles

– 8x TOW (AH-1P)


– AN/AAQ Hawkeye Target Sight System

– Target Sight System FLIR


– Mission Computers

– 6″ x 8″ Liquid Crystal Multi Function Displays

– 4,2″ x 4,2″ Liquid Crystal Dual Functionm Displays

– Keyboard Units

– AVR-2A Laser Warning Receiver

– AN/APR-39A Radar Warning receiver

– AN/ALE-47 SMart COuntermeasures Dispenser

– AN/AAR-47 Missile Warning Device

– Thales TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight Display

– VHF/UHF AN/ARC-210 Radio with KY-58

– C-11746B(V)3/ARC Intercom

– AN/APX-100(V) IFF system

– Advanced Memory Unit (AMU) Mission Data Loader

– Digital Map System (DMS)

– CN-1689(V2)/ASN Embedded GPS/INS

– ARN-153 TACAN System

– DF-301E VHF/UHF Direction Finder


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