The UH-1Y is a multi-mission, fully marinised utility helicopter. More than 16,000 UH-1 Iroquois (better known as Huey) helicopters were produced by Bell Textron since service entry in 1958.
The UH-1N entered service with the US Marine Corps (USMC) in 1971. The current version of UH-1Y is designated as ‘Venom’ and can engage with threats and deliver or rescue personnel in most difficult conditions. It replaced the older version, the UH-1N Huey.
The UH-1Y utility helicopter is capable of shipboard operations worldwide, including take-off, landing, refuelling, and rearming. The helicopter is securable for deck movement up to Sea State 5. The missions supported by the aircraft include airborne command and control, aeromedical evacuation, troop transport, transport of supplies and equipment, and search and rescue.
UH-1Y Huey upgrade programme
Under the US Marine Corps H-1 programme, 100 UH-1N Huey utility helicopters were remanufactured by Bell Textron to the UH-1Y grade and 180 AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters to AH-1Z grade.
In April 2005, the USMC decided that the helicopters will be built as new rather than remanufactured, starting from the third low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch in 2008.
This strategy was preferred because of the increase in operational deployment following Operation Iraqi Freedom, the marginal cost difference and the adverse impact of having helicopters out of commission during the upgrade process.
The UH-1Y and AH-1Z have a very high level of commonality which reduces the manufacturing and procurement costs. The helicopters have a common four-bladed, composite, hingeless, bearingless main rotor system and tail rotor, engine, avionics, software, controls and displays.
The first flight of the UH-1Y took place in December 2001 and first flight of the fully configured aircraft was in October 2003. An LRIP order for six UH-1Y was placed in December 2003 and a second batch of four LRIP aircraft was ordered in April 2005.
The developmental testing was completed in February 2006 and a six-month operational evaluation (OPEVAL) began in May 2006. The third LRIP contract for seven UH-1Ys was placed in July 2006. The first production UH-1Y helicopter was delivered in January 2007.
The initial operating capability was achieved in September 2008 and the UH-1Y was operationally deployed in January 2009 aboard USS Boxer, a Wasp Class amphibious assault ship.
By October 2008, the USMC placed orders for 37 UH-1Y. The USMC procured a total of 160 UH-1Ys to replace the UH-1N models in its inventory. The delivery of the final helicopter was completed in April 2018.
Bell Textron restarted the production of the UH-1Y Venom helicopters for the government of Czech Republic, the first international customer, in July 2021. The production is part of a contract received by Bell from the US Department of Defense in 2020 to manufacture and supply eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters to Czech Republic.
The helicopter cabins are manufactured by US-based turnkey solutions provider Crestview Aerospace at its Florida facility. The final assembly of the aircraft will be performed at the Bell Amarillo Assembly Center in Texas.
Huey helicopter design and features
The most noticeable external changes to the H-1 are the new four-bladed all composite, ballistically tolerant main and tail rotors. The rotors can sustain a 23mm round direct hit. The rotor design eliminated all bearings, hinges and rotor-mounted vibration absorbers. The blade body consists of a spar assembly, leading edge protective strips, skins over a honeycomb core and a trailing edge strip.
Blade folding is by a combination of automatic and manual procedures. The system is capable of folding and unfolding in horizontal winds up to 45kt from any direction.
Two fast rope gantries, deployable from within the cabin, are permanently installed. The gantries can be stowed in two positions so the cabin can be configured for ten crashworthy seats or six litters.
The UH-1Y Venom can accommodate two pilots and eight passengers. It is claimed to have the highest reliability and lowest life cycle cost amongst its competitors.
The UH-1Y Venom can function as an efficient utility aircraft owing to its efficient power configuration, effective weaponry, and precision sensors.
It can carry out the role of an attack helicopter due to its strong composite exterior build and precise targeting capability. It can provide air-to-ground fire support to the soldiers on the ground.
The helicopter can be used to reinforce support during special operations by dropping and extracting the soldier teams from the battle locations. It can also be deployed as an escort helicopter to provide protection on the move.
The UH-1Y can support the search and rescue missions with the help of onboard equipment and specialised aircrew. The modern avionics and armament makes the platform suitable for aerial
reconnaissance missions, while the communication systems allow it to perform command and control operations.
The new fully integrated glass cockpit is night vision goggle compatible. The two crew stations are nearly identical with pilot or co-pilot functions at either station. The flight controls include conventional cyclic, collective and directional pedals.
Each crew station has two 8in×8in active matrix liquid crystal colour multifunction displays and a 4.2in×4.2in dual function display and data entry keyboard on the central console.
Thales Avionics is the supplier of the TopOwl Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMD), also fitted on the Tiger, NH90 and Rooivalk helicopters. The HMD provides real-time mission-critical data and reduces workload on the pilot. The lightweight sight and display includes advanced visor projection with image intensifiers and forward-looking infrared.
A FLIR Systems BRITE Star thermal imaging and laser designation system is mounted under the nose. BRITE Star consists of a triple field-of-view thermal imager based on a 3 to 5-micron indium antinomide focal plane array, a high-resolution CCD TV camera and an eyesafe laser rangefinder and designator. The system replaced the AN/AAQ-22A SAFIRE and AN/AAQ-22C Star SAFIRE (also made by FLIR Systems) fitted on the UH-1N.
The communications suite includes the US Navy standard AN/ARC-210 radio, UHF/VHF communications, COMSEC, an APX-100(V) IFF identification friend or foe, a satellite communications interface with a high-power amplifier and tactical data modem.
The primary navigation system is the US Navy embedded GPS inertial navigation system with an ARN-153 TACAN system and VHF/UHF direction finder. The cockpit is equipped with a digital map for navigation, threat display and in-flight mission planning.
Integrated avionics of UH-1Y Huey Northrop Grumman was contracted to develop the integrated avionics system which includes controls, cockpit displays, communications, navigation, central mission computer and external stores and weapons management system.
The automatic flight control system has a stability control augmentation system (SCAS) with fail passive four-axis control of pitch, roll, yaw and collective.
The pilot can select other operating modes of the flight control system: heading, attitude, speed, cruise, altitude and hover-hold, hover wave-off and force trim. Wave-off mode causes the helicopter to change from the flight condition at engagement to a pre-selected terminal speed. Force trim enables the pilot to reduce the control forces to zero.
The helicopter is armed with 70mm rockets. The pilot launches the rockets by a trigger squeeze for single, pairs or salvo firings. The helicopter can be fitted with the seven-tube LAU-68, the
19-tube LAU-61 and, with additional software, the seven-tube M-261 or 19-tube M-260 for remote set fusing. The helicopter supports all Mk 66 rockets with unitary, airburst and training warheads.
The machine guns selected for the UH-1Y are the M-240D, GAU-16 and GAU-17A.
The 7.62mm GAU-17A aircraft machine gun can be fired by either member of crew when in the forward fixed position. The GAU-17A is air-cooled, multi-barrel and electrically powered with a firing rate up to 3,000 rounds a minute.
The 0.50-calibre Browning GAU-16A gun is belt fed, recoil operated and air-cooled. The rate of fire is from 750 to 850 rounds a minute.
The 7.62mm M-240D is a belt fed, recoil operated, air-cooled machine gun with a rate of fire of 750 to 950 rounds a minute.
The helicopter is equipped with a suite of self-protection and electronic warfare systems including the Northrop Grumman APR-39B(V)2 radar warning receiver and ATK AAR-47(V)2 missile warner and laser detection system. The helicopter also has a BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions (formerly Tracor) ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser.
The helicopter has two General Electric T700-GE-401C engines which provide a maximum continuous power of 1,546shp. The engine is equipped with a digital engine control unit (DECU) that maintains turbine speed, gas temperature and torque within allowed limits.
The DECU provides automatic overspeed protection, auto-relight in the event of flame-out and load share between the two engines. The exhaust system contains an integrated hover infrared suppression system.
The crashworthy fuel system consists of five interconnected self-sealing rubber fuel cells. Three main fuel cells are installed aft of the cabin bulkhead and two feed cells are under the cabin floor. The total usable fuel capacity is 1,333l.
Pressure and gravity refuelling receptacles are installed in the aft port fuel cell.
Auxiliary fuel tanks can be attached to one or both DAS mounts. With both auxiliary fuel tanks installed the total fuel capacity is increased to 2,021l.