Bell Helicopter, October 25, 2005 - FORTH WORTH, TX, USA - The US Marine Corps, through the Naval Air Systems Command, accepted delivery, (Oct.15, 2005) of the first AH-1Z Cobra and UH-1Y utility helicopters to enter the fleet. The two aircraft, manufactured by Bell Helicopter, a Textron (NYSE: TXT) company are part of the Marine's H-1 Upgrade Program, and had been operated by a joint Bell-Government Integrated Test Team (ITT) during the Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program. They will be transferred to the Operational Test Unit at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, to immediately begin Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) training.
The H-1 Program is a major upgrade to remanufacture the US Marine Corps fleet of AH-1W SuperCobras to the AH-1Z and build completely new UH-1Y utility helicopters to an advanced configuration featuring common engines and flight dynamics. The program involves 180 AH-1W SuperCobra helicopters. Upon completion, the AH-1W becomes the AH-1Z. UH-1N helicopters will be phased out of service as new UH-1Y helicopters are built and delivered.
The H-1 upgrades include an 84% commonality between the two aircraft including engines (GE-T700 engines), four-blade all-composite, hingeless, bearingless main rotor system and tail rotor, identical drive trains, hydraulics and electrical distribution systems. By using common systems the cost of the logistics support process for the two helicopters will be dramatically reduced and will allow for vastly improved shipboard operability. Far less critical shipboard space will be needed to store spare parts and support equipment to support the two helicopters comprising the H-1 Program.
The H-1 Program will result in 180 essentially newAH-1Z and 100 completely new UH-1Y aircraft for the US Marine Corps to operate beyond 2020. These will be "zero-time" airframes manufactured with the latest technology. The H-1 Upgrade Program increases the speed, range, maneuverability and lift capability of both aircraft. The savings in maintenance staffing and training, ground handling and support equipment, and spare parts inventories equates to billions of dollars over the life of the program.
Another two H-1 aircraft will complete their modifications from the Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) program into OPEVAL aircraft by December 2005. OPEVAL is scheduled to begin during First Quarter 2006 once training for both aircrews and maintainers is completed
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