The US Marine Corps UH-1Y programme has achieved the initial operational capability (IOC) milestone after a 12-year-long, troubled development phase.
Reaching IOC means that the first training squadron comprised of three aircraft, six pilots and six crew chiefs is declared for a deployment scheduled in January 2009.
“It’s been a long, intense effort to achieve IOC and it has been rewarding for the fleet to reach this milestone,” said John Baronowski, H-1 director of logistics.
The event also comes just in time to avoid a costly, further delay for a programme that has already faced four major restructurings.
According to a March report by the Government Accountability Office, the H-1 Upgrades programme, which includes the UH-1Y, the first unit being prepared for deployment was at risk of a delay.
“If the planned September 2008 [IOC] is not met, the programme may face an acquisition proglramme baseline brewach and risk undergoing a fifth restrucuting,” the GAO reported.
The H-1 Upgrades, which involves the AH-1Z programme, has exceeded its original budget estimate by 140% since beginning in 1996.