The US Air Force has issued a request for information (RfI) to modernize its ageing fleet of Bell UH-1N helicopters-potentially to keep the aircraft in service for another 30 years.
"In terms of mission capable (MC) rates, the UH-1 remains one of the most reliable platforms within the US Air Force inventory," the request reads. "To provide the UH-1 with an additional 30 years of service and retain its MC rates, the rotary branch is attempting to resolve sustainability and capability shortfalls."
The notice was posted 17 April. The USAF wants responses within 14 days of the posting.
The USAF wants to increase the UH-1N's endurance, range, speed, all-weather capability, survivability and equip it with modernised communication and navigation system capabilities. "The government is seeking interested sources to fulfil [fiscal year]14-18 requirements," the RFI reads.
The Hueys were supposed to have been replaced by the USAF's common vertical lift support platform (CVLSP), which had attracted interest from Sikorsky, AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter and Boeing.
But the CVLSP funding was eliminated in the US Department of Defense's fiscal year 2013 budget proposal.
The USAF is also planning on taking some of the US Marine Corps' surplus UH-1Ns. The Marines are replacing the UH-1Ns with some newly-built UH-1Y "Venom" helicopters.
But the USAF has yet to determine what it will do with the UH-1Ns.