Bell is quietly hoping for a Malaysian and or Asian order for the newest version of its legendary Huey helicopter. At 13 March 2014, only three days before the start of the LIMA 2015 Exhibitions, the American helicopter manufacturer decided to put its UH-1Y Venom plus the civilian Bell 429 WLG on the static display in Langkawi, Malaysia, during the duration of the show from 17 to 21 March.
The UH-1Y is being promoted in an official partnership of Bell with the US Marine Corps (USMC), which the letter just having finished a bilateral exercise with the Malaysian Armed Forces. Compared to the “old” Huey the new Yankee version features upgrades such as Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) extensions, newer options for targeting and precise fire and better lift.
Within the USMC the Bell UH-1Y operates often in tandem with the Bell AH-1Z Viper – the latest version of the older Cobra attack helicopter. With 85 percent of the parts of both choppers being common, Bell has provided the Marines with lower logistical costs and an easier supply chain. Malaysia is currently looking for an attack helicopter – with both the AH-1Z as well as the Turkish T-129 ATAK as a possible candidates.
Bell 429 WLG
Also at the LIMA Exhibitions’ static is the Bell 429 WLG, a light twin-engine helicopter featuring retractable wheeled landing gear, a fully integrated “glass” cockpit, advanced drive system and WAAS navigation and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) capability certified for single or dual pilot operations. Additional safety features include a collective mounted throttle, damage tolerant hub and rotor system, and energy attenuating seats. After the LIMA the Bell 429 WLG will go on a demonstration tour that will also cover Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.
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.
The US Defence department spends another US$ 59,703,818 for the manufacturing and delivery of 15 UH-1Y Venom (Lot 12) assault helicopters and 11 AH-1Z Super Cobra (Lot 12) attack helicopters for the US Marine Corps, the department announced on 27 March 2014. Work will be done by Bell Textron in Forth Worth and Amarillo, Texas, and will be completed in September 2015.
The AH-1Z Super Cobra, aka Viper, is the US Marines flying artillery. The first version was introduced in 1967 and was almost immediately forwarded to the war operations in Vietnam. Armed with rockets and a 20mm canon the Super Cobra provides close air support for Marines on the ground. Moreover it escorts transport helicopters into battle. The AH-1Z is equipped with enhanced navigation displays that distinguish friends from enemies, data transfer systems that deliver real-time aerial reconnaissance to Marines on the ground and composite rotor blades and tail booms that can withstand 23mm cannon fire.
When outfitted with door-mounted .50 caliber and 7.62 machine guns and teamed alongside AH-1s, Marine UH-1s give USMC commanders an extra fist on the battlefield. All Marine UH-1N Hueys are being replaced with four-bladed UH-1Y Venoms. They feature upgraded glass cockpit avionics, a new satellite data link network, a 125% boost in payload and 50% increase in range and speed.