AH-1Z/UH-1Y pass 2,000 flight hours
US Naval Air systems Command (NAVAIR), May 11, 2004 - PATUXENT RIVER, MD – The rockets’ red glare recently gave proof that not only is the H-1 Upgrade Program still here but has achieved 2,000 flight hours amid weapons accuracy testing and operational assessment by the Fleet.
H-1 Upgrades flight test directors aren’t sure if the milestone hour mark came May 6 during AH-1Z rocket accuracy testing conducted at the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona by Marine Corps Maj. Jon Selby and Bell Helicopter test pilot Herb Moran, or during UH-1Y external loads testing conducted here the same day by Marine Corps Maj. Pat Lindauer and Bell Helicopter test pilot Troy Caudill.
This confusion pleases Col. Doug Isleib, program manager for the H-1 program here.
“It’s always been about the people behind the technology,” Isleib explained, “not the technology itself. From the engineers and assembly artisans to the flight test engineers and pilots, they’ve poured a lot of sweat equity into this program by solving problems, overcoming challenges and flying long hours to send these aircraft out to the people who matter most of all – the Marines in the Fleet Marine Force.
“We have a lot of different pieces coming together in fielding two nearly identical platforms,” Isleib continued, “And seeing a milestone like this come while we’re testing five aircraft in Arizona, Virginia and Maryland is a real indication of the professionalism and diligence that not only got us here but will see us through to production.”
With two aircraft engaged in the program’s second operational assessment, the program is anticipating positive feedback from Fleet operators in preparation for the final operational evaluation and the Milestone C decision to proceed with full rate production, currently scheduled for November, 2006.
Weapons testing in Arizona, meanwhile, is proving the AH-1Z’s ability to perform its primary mission – close air support. One month into a four-month test, the aircraft has already fired Mk66 2.75-inch rockets and its Mk197 20 mm gun using the Thales “Top Owl” Helmet-Mounted Sight and Display System. Yet to come are Hellfire anti-armor missile and AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile shots.
UH-1Y testing here is working towards starting weapons firing and accuracy testing within the month and taking place here and at the Army’s Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. The milestone flight occurred during testing of the UH-1Y’s handling qualities with a 3,650-lb external load.
All testing of the aircraft so far has provided valuable input to the flight test team here and will yield a vastly improved capability to the Marine Corps, according to Bell Helicopter’s flight test director, Young Davidovich. Currently, the Marine Corps flies 30-year old UH-1N Hueys. And although the AH-1W Super Cobras successfully taking the fight to insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq, and elsewhere are newer, they too offer opportunities for technology improvement that will reap benefits in the form of survivability, lethality and maintainability.
“This flight hour milestone comes only three years after first flight and demonstrates the maturity of the program,” Davidovich said. “The aircraft are performing well and we’re tracking towards successful completion of the test program.”
Program officials agreed.
“Getting to 2,000 hours is a direct result of the diligence exercised by the test team in its safe and deliberate execution of a solid test plan,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Anderson, H-1 Assistant Program Manager for Systems Engineering. “Achieving 2,000 flight test hours in approximately three years shows us the inherent robustness of the platform and the program-wide professionalism behind it.”
After remanufacture, the H-1 Upgrades aircraft will feature the latest technology in rotor and drive train design, avionics, sensors and weapons. They also share approximately 84 percent of their parts, making them far more maintainable, supportable, survivable and deployable than today’s H-1 aircraft.
“The Fleet’s going to love these aircraft,” Davidovich said.
By 2014, the Marine Corps will have procured 100 UH-1Y Hueys and 180 AH-1Z Super Cobras.
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