Bell Helicopter signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with MPI Group in Prague on 12 May as it looks to offer its UH-1Y utility helicopter to the Czech Republic.
The MoU, which was signed at the site of the company’s new facility on the outskirts of the Czech capital, covers opportunities for national industry to support Bell’s push to secure a first export sale of the UH-1Y to the air force branch of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic (Vzdusné Síly Armády Ceské Republiky: VS ACR). The VS ACR has a pressing need to replace many of its Warsaw Pact-era inventories, which include Mil Mi-2 ‘Hoplite’, Mi-8/17 ‘Hip’, and Mi-24 ‘Hind’ helicopters.
Developed for the US Marine Corps (USMC) alongside the AH-1Z Viper gunship, with which it shares more than 80% commonality, the UH-1Y is billed chiefly as a utility platform that would be suitable as an Mi-8/17 replacement for the VS ACR. That said, it is able to carry 70 mm Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) rockets and door-mounted 12.7 mm machine guns, and so could provide a replacement for the Mi-24 assault helicopter also (compared with the AH-1Z, the UH-1Y lacks only the chin-mounted 20 mm Gatling gun, the AIM-9L Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and the AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missile anti-tank capability). Indeed, in this respect, the combination of a troop carrying and a gunship capability makes the UH-1Y analogous to the Mi-24 that the Czech Republic and other eastern European nations are now looking to replace.
Besides the Czech Republic, Bell Helicopter is also targeting Poland with a combination of both its UH-1Y and AH-1Z platforms.
According to the USMC, the UH-1Y provides a 76% gross weight increase over the UH-1N it is replacing, a 90% increase in its maximum internal fuel load, a 68% increase in the ‘useful’ load it can carry, and a 43% boost in its maximum cruise speed.
See recent post on Czech Republic & UH-1Y:
Bell Helicopter announces half-billion dollar contract – See details of UH-1Y