Lookin' Good, So Far
The Marine Corps concluded its first operational assessment of
its newest attack and utility helicopters, the AH-1Z SuperCobra and
the UH-1Y Huey, March 27, at Patuxent River (MD).
operational assessment, which began February 12, was conducted by
25 enlisted Marines and four officers, all of whom are assigned to
the H-1 Operational Test Team there; and they fall under the
operational control of VX-9 at China Lake (CA).
"The actual purpose of this assessment is to determine if these
aircraft are potentially operationally effective," explained Maj.
Harry Hewson, PMA-276 (H-1 helicopter program) deputy program
manager for operations at 'Pax River,' "but this is not a
full-blown operational evaluation; it's merely an initial look by
Fleet pilots. These aircraft are still in the developmental phase
and we want the operational test team guys to tell us if we're on
the right track. We're confident they'll tell us we are."
From Patuxent, the aircraft flew missions to Quantico (VA), New
River (NC), and the Aberdeen (MD) Proving Ground.
The missions, which totaled 12.7 flight hours in UH-1Y-1 and
11.8 hours in AH-1Z-3, were reconnaissance team insertion and
extraction (simulated), aerial reconnaissance, airborne forward air
control and escort (for the Yankee) and armed reconnaissance, air
interdiction, close air support (simulated), forward air control
and escort (for the Zulu).
Developmental testing continued around the assessment and,
combined with the assessment, brought flight time totals for the
H-1 Upgrades Program here to 571 hours for the AH-1Z and 318 hours
for the UH-1Y.
is an important milestone for the program," stated Col. Doug
Isleib, PMA-276 program manager. "This is the first time the
fleet guys will get an operational look at these aircraft. Besides
getting an indication of whether or not we're potentially
operationally effective, we need to get a
fresh and different perspective from the Fleet."
Aside from that fresh perspective, the operational assessment
marked an important milestone for the new helicopters, according to
Isleib. "This is a key element in getting to our first Defense
Acquisition Board, which, in turn, will get these aircraft into
production and out to the Fleet where they're needed," he
The Operational Test Team's findings, a critical element for the
August DAB, are expected to be released in July, according to
[Thanks to John C. Milliman, PMA-276 Public Affairs Officer