Bell Helicopter is set to finish deliveries of the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter to the US Marine Corps by the end of 2018.
The USMC will continue to take deliveries of the Venom’s sister aircraft, the Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter, until 2022.
The Venom and the Viper are based on the Vietnam-era family of Huey helicopters, the UH-1 Iroquois and the derivative AH-1 Cobra. The modern variants share 85 percent of their parts including a common tail boom, engines, rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software and controls.
“This allows us to reduce our ownership costs and it reduces our footprint on board ships,” said David Walsh, programme manager for the UH-1. “Anytime you are on board a maritime ship space is at a premium.”
The H-1 programme is also focused on improving the existing fleet of Bell AH-1Z Vipers and UH-1Y Venoms with upgraded electronic warfare systems, Link 16, an increase in available electrical power and structural improvements to help the helicopters carry more external weapons, said Walsh. New weapons for the helicopters will include JAGM and AIM-9X Sidewinder.
And, the programme is adding upgraded navigation systems such as ADS-B, EGI and M-Code GPS. Bell is also looking into but hasn’t started adding the ability to control unmanned aerial systems from the helicopters, said Walsh.