The Vietnamese People’ Army has temporarily grounded the Bell UH-1 Iroquois (“Huey”) fleet after the fatal crash of one of the machines on 28 January 2015.
An army spokesman told Vietnamese journalists that each machine will be technically inspected before allowing it back into the air. Two VPA lieutenant colonels, a major and a lieutenant perished on 28 January, after their UH-1 went down eight minutes after take-off from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon Tan Son Nhat Airport.
Vietnam is believed to still operate about 12 to 14 Hueys, from the more than 50 that South Vietnam flew when it was defeated by North Vietnam in 1975. Almost two years earlier regular US forces left the country after 13 years of American involvement in the Vietnamese conflict. The war – a lost one for the United States – left between one to two million Vietnamese military and civilians, about 250,000 Cambodians, possibly up to 150,000 Laotians and more than 58,000 US service men/women dead.
An astonishing almost 7,000 UH-1s were deployed to Vietnam, of the more than 16,000 built. One of the more modern versions is the Bell 412, of which almost 900 have been delivered so far. Scores of “Hueys” – the nickname for this choppers derived from its original type abbreviation HU (Helicopter Utility) – old and new serve many military and civilian operators worldwide.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger