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05-21-04, 06:12 AM
New Utility Helicopter UH-1Y Fires First Weapons

May 18, 2004

By John Milliman

NAVAIR PATUXENT RIVER, MD – The Bell UH-1Y Huey, the Marine Corps’ newest and most capable utility helicopter, fired weapons for the first time during a test flight at the Army’s Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia Monday.

H-1 Integrated Test Team test pilots Herb Moran, of Bell Helicopter, and Marine Corps Maj. Eldon Metzger were at the controls for the historic first.

Weapons firing testing is being performed to evaluate the aircraft’s reaction to the stresses placed on it by weapons getting launched or fired from it, according to H-1 Upgrades Program system engineer Bert Frowein.

“This is the first ordinance expenditure from a brand new aircraft,” Frowein explained, “and the most complicated testing we’ve done so far. Flying the aircraft, navigating, working the avionics and communicating between the mission computer and the weapons make for the highest workload environment the pilots face.

“We’re early in the test but so far, so good,” he stated.

The routine testing makes sure the loads and vibrations are within expected limits when the weapons mounted on the aircraft are fired, according to Frowein. By the time this portion of the test is complete, approximately 400 2.75-inch rockets, 12,800 rounds of machine gun ammunition, 136 flares, 104 chaff canisters and 104 decoys will have been fired on nearly 40 test flights.

As the developmental flight test continues to build towards the final Operational Evaluation, scheduled to begin early next year, program officials see this current testing as positive indication of successful transition to production.

“This is proof that the Yankee can deliver,” Frowein said.

Weapons testing of the UH-1Y’s attack partner, the AH-1Z, is concurrently being done at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

Both aircraft recently completed their second operational assessment by Fleet operators. Results of that assessment are not expected to be released for several months.

By 2014, the Marine Corps will have procured 100 UH-1Y Hueys and 180 AH-1Z Super Cobras.

After remanufacture, the H-1 Upgrades aircraft will feature the latest technology in rotor and drive train design, avionics, sensors and weapons. They also share approximately 84 percent of their parts, making them far more maintainable, supportable, survivable and deployable than today’s H-1 aircraft.


The 40-flight test phase involves firing more than 12,800 rounds of ammunition and 700 rockets, flares and chaff to test the aircraft’s ability to successfully launch and fire weapons.