Military helicopter designers at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas, are preparing to build 24 new-build AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and associated avionics for the U.S. Marine Corps under terms of a $55.9 million U.S. Navy contract announced Tuesday.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command are asking Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, to buy long-lead parts and components necessary to build 24 Lot 14 AH-1Z helicopters as part of the H-1 upgrade program.

The AH-1Z is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W Super Cobra that features a four-blade rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. It has upgraded avionics, weapons, and electro-optical sensors designed to find targets at long ranges and attack them with precision weapons.

The Marine Corps H-1 upgrades program is building new helicopters, as well as rebuilding legacy AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Twin Huey utility helicopters with state of the art designs. The program seeks to upgrade AH-1Ws to AH-1Zs, and UH-1Ns to UH-1Ys.

Long-lead items involve system components that require the longest time to build, which could delay overall system production if money isn’t allocated for production early in the process.

Read more at Military Aerospace