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by Neville Dawson
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AH-1Z approved for full-rate production; Reliability issues; Program oversight & contracts. (Dec 30/10)
The US Marines’ helicopter force is aging at all levels, from banana-shaped CH-46 Sea Knight transports that are far older than their pilots, to the 1980s-era UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters that make up the Corps’ helicopter assault force. While the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey program has staggered along for almost 2 decades under accidents, technical delays, and cost issues, replacement of the USMC’s backbone helicopter assets has languished. Given the high-demand scenarios inherent in the current war, other efforts are clearly required.
Enter the H-1 program, the USMC’s plan to remanufacture older helicopters into new and improved UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters. The new versions would discard the signature 2-bladed rotors for modern 4-bladed improvements, redo the aircraft’s electronics, and add improved engines and weapons to offer a new level of performance. It seemed simple, but hasn’t quite worked out that way. The H-1 program has encountered its share of delays and issues, but the program survived its review, and continues on into the low-rate initial production stage and Initial Operational Capability.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article covers the H-1 helicopter programs’ rationales and changes, the upgrades involved in each model, program developments and annual budgets, the full timeline of contracts and key program developments, and related research sources.
- The H-1 Helicopters [updated]
- The H-1 Program
- Contracts and Key Events, 1999-Present [updated]
- Additional Readings & Sources
Subscribe here, and keep reading DII’s coverage of news and events involving the USMC H-1 helicopter program. Our cross-linked article network and reference materials include:
- A look at H-1 program goals, such as improved safety and reliability for both UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters, lower life-cycle costs, higher commonality, and enhanced combat performance.
- Examination of major modifications including a 4-blade rotor system with blade fold, upgraded drive system and landing gear, pylon structural modifications and improved engine performance, upgraded avionics and targeting and strike capabilities
- Program spending and orders by fiscal year
- Numerous photos, and links to source materials
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