FORT WORTH, Texas, May 12 (UPI) — Bell Helicopter has announced a $461.1 million U.S. military contract to supply the U.S. Marine Corps with new utility and attack helicopters.
Covered under the award are 12 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and 16 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, plus associated auxiliary fuel kits.
The company, which announced the award this week, said the contract was issued earlier this year.
“The UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters continue to perform for the United States Marine Corps, delivering on our promise of technologically advanced aircraft the Marines can rely on to accomplish their challenging missions,” said Lisa Atherton, executive vice president of Military Business for Bell Helicopter. “The Venom and Viper are a powerful, comprehensive duo, designed and manufactured to reduce logistical requirements and environmentally hardened to perform for armed forces over land or sea.”
The Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter can carry a wide array of ordnance and employs Bell’s AH-1Z’s long-range target sight system, which allows the identification and tracking of multiple targets.
The UH-1Y Venom is a combat-proven tactical utility helicopter for insertion or exfiltration of personnel. It was first deployed by the Marine Corps in 2009.
The helicopters are currently in production at the company’s manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and also in the Amarillo, Texas, aircraft assembly facility.
Bell said the contract is part of the U.S. Marine Corps’ H-1 Program of Record, which calls for 189 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and 160 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters.
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The UH-1Y Venom was developed from the previous UH-1N Twin Huey, introduced in the early 1970s. Extremely successful, versatile and reliable airframe of the UH-1 was integrated with modern avionics and new propulsion. It uses a lot of off-the-shelf technology. It has a high degree of commonality with the AH-1Z Viper, which was developed under the same program. Even though these air vehicles serve to totally different missions. Viper is premier attack helicopter while Venom is utility transport chopper. However they share 85% of replaceable components. These helicopters share engines, rotor system, transmission, tail boom, avionics, controls and displays and other components. Such commonality allowed to reduce production, maintenance and overall operational costs.
This helicopter can carry 8 fully equipped soldiers. Its modular construction permits cargo bay to be transformed for other roles, such as MEDEVAC and cargo carrying.
The Venom helicopter can be armed with 12.7-mm or 7.62-mm machine guns, or 7.62-mm Gatling guns installed in the open doors on either side of the fuselage. Also it can carry pods with Hydra 70 unoperated rockets or APKWS laser guided anti-armor missiles. These are used for self-defense to soften-up enemy defenses before landing.
On combat missions USMC typically deploy 2-4 utility helicopters alongside with detachment of 4-8 attack helicopters.
|Dimensions and weight|
|Main rotor diameter||14.88 m|
|Weight (empty)||5.37 t|
|Weight (maximum take off)||8.39 t|
|Engines and performance|
|Engines||2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshafts|
|Engine power||2 x 1 800 hp|
|Maximum speed||286 km/h|
|Cruising speed||248 km|
|Service ceiling||6.1 km|
|Combat radius||241 km|
|Payload capacity||3 t|
|Machine guns||2 x 12.7-mm or 7.62-mm|
|Other||70-mm unguided rockets|