Boeing on Thursday 2 March unveiled its MH-139 helicopter, which the company will enter in the competition to replace the US Air Force’s UH-1N Huey fleet. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin and its subsidiary Sikorsky are pitching their new HH-60U Ghost Hawk.
The US Air Force is looking to replace its UH-1N Hueys, which currently protect intercontinental ballistic missiles and transport government and security forces. The plan is to replace the current Huey fleet — which entered service in the 1970s — with up to 84 new helicopters.
Boeing’s revealed the MH-139 at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium. The offering is based on the Leonardo Helicopters AW139. “This northeast Philadelphia-built aircraft is sized to meet US Air Force requirements and offers more than 1 billion USD in acquisition and lifecycle expense savings over 30 years when compared to competitor aircraft,” said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift.
The HH-60U Ghost Hawk shares many commonalities with HH-60W combat search and rescue helos currently in production. A decision on which helicopter will eventually replace the Huey in the US Air Force, is still some time away.
On 15 March, Bell Helicopter Textron has been awarded a USD 18.9 million for three UH-1H Huey II helicopters for the Lebanese government. This will be done via a foreign military sales (FMS) contract.
These 3 examples are part of an order for 18 UH-1H Huey II helicopters placed in 2014. The Lebanese Air Force already flies 6 Huey IIs since 2012. Delivery of the 3 helicopters is expected to be completed by 14 March 2017. Besides the Huey II the Lebanese Air Force also operates the older UH-1H type for more than 15 years now. The Huey IIs will replace these older airframes.
The UH-1 Huey (officially named Iroquois) flew first in 1959, and has been in service in large numbers with many air forces around the world, such as the German army (see our special report about the UH-1Ds here)
Taiwan has secured the operational availability of its fleet of 10 Aérospatiale designed AS365 Dauphin helicopters for the next five years. Taipei has chosen Airbus Helicopters – the current marketeer/manufacturer of the Dauphin – for a so-called full fleet management for 54,5 million Euros.
The National Airborne Services Corps of Republic of China (Taiwan) Interior Ministry is operating the 10 Dauphins in the search and rescue, disaster relief, emergency medical services (HEMS), transportation, monitoring, reconnaissance and patrol role. The NASC’s AS365s are based at Taipei-SongShan, Taichung and Kaohsiung-Hsia Kong.
Key in deal is that Airbus performs not only all maintenance on the choppers, but also provides so-called end-to-end logistics. In other words, the NASC personnel should only worry about its real mission: providing chopper service for those in need.
The NASC was formed in March 2004 as a merger between police, fire fighting and coast guard units. Besides the Dauphins, the NASC operates 20 Bell UH-1H “Huey” choppers, two Sikorsky S-76Bs, three Chinooks (civilian model B-234 of the CH-47), a Beechcraft 200 Super King Air (BE-200) and a Beechcraft 350 King Air (BE-350). Apart from the three Fleet Stations where the Dauphins are based, the NASC air assets also fly from Fleet Stations Hualien, Tainan and Taitung.
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.
Australian Defence Forces base Darwin, in the Northern Territory facing Asia, is slowly growing into a major US support location. From March/April till September the base will hold 22 rotary wing of the US Marine Corps.
Located slightly north-east of the city of Darwin, the RAAF Base is a so-called forward operating location with the runway shared with Darwin International Airport. It is home to a detachment of Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft from No. 92 Squadron as well as air force base units.
USMC Squadrons Squadrons HMH-462, HMH-463, HMLA-367 and HMLA-367 will bring a combined force of eight Bell AH-1W Super Cobras, six Bell UH-1Y Venoms and eight Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallions to the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin, according to current plans. They will train together with RAAF elements and provide the US with a jump spot for possible operations in Asia.