The US Navy has ordered 12 UH-1Y Venoms and 16 AH-1Z Vipers from Bell Helicopter for $461 million as the Army seek another 16 UH-72A Lakotas from Airbus Helicopters.
Operated by the Marine Corps, the Venom and Viper are 85% common and are delivered off Bell’s mixed production line in Amarillo, Texas. According to a navy contract announcement on 11 March, the Lot 13 Venom and Viper order is due by February of 2019.
The order reflects the Marine Corps’ continued transition to the AH-1Z light attack helicopter from the legacy AH-1W, which will be phased out by 2020. Until recently, the branch was procuring more UH-1Ys to replace its two-bladed UH-1N Hueys.
Bell AH-1Z and UH-1Y
The marines are seeking 152 new-build AH-1Zs and 150 UH-1Ys, supplemented by 37 converted AH-1W SuperCobras and 10 remanufactured UH-1N Twin Hueys.
Pentagon budget documents for fiscal year 2017 show the navy buying 27 AH-1Z/UH-1Y helicopters per year for the marines through 2019, except three of those sought in 2017 are an “unfunded requirement”.
Separately, the army has begun the contracting process to furnish 16 more UH-72s from Airbus, with an award “anticipated” on June 30.
That’s according to a contracting notice published on 10 March, which says deliveries are expected between December 2017 and March 2018.
Assembled in Columbus, Mississippi, this new award appears to extend production there beyond a 12-aircraft order placed in November 2015, which anticipated delivery beginning in August 2017.