AH-1Z Attack Helicopter Builds 1000+ Hours In Testing
With one aircraft in
International Falls (MN)undergoing cold weather evaluation flights
(and it doesn't get much colder than in International Falls) and
the other two conducting test flights at the Patuxent River Naval
Air Station (MD), the AH-1Z test fleet exceeded 1,000 flight hours
The AH-1Z Super Cobra is the attack helicopter component of the
Marine Corps' H-1 Upgrade program to remanufacture the existing
AH-1W SuperCobra and UH-1N twin-engine Huey into the 84 percent
identical AH-1Z and UH-1Y configurations.
During its first 1,000 flight hours, the AH-1Z achieved 160
knots cruise speed with a maximum airspeed of 220 knots. In
February 2004, the AH-1Z is scheduled to conduct live fire testing
at the Yuma Proving Grounds (AZ).
The H-1 Program received a major boost Oct. 23, 2003, from the
Defense Acquisition Board when it approved Bell Helicopter's plan
to remanufacture six UH-1N and three AH-1W helicopters to the UH-1Y
and AH-1Z standard during FY04. A second Low Rate Initial
Production lot, currently scheduled to be another six Hueys and
three Super Cobras, should enter production in FY05.
"The program's on a roll right now," said Col. Doug Isleib, the
H-1 program manager at Patuxent. "The aircraft are performing
great, Bell Helicopter as a company is making great strides and the
Government/Bell team is really hitting its stride. We're eager to
get these tremendously upgraded platforms out to the Marines who
Upgrades incorporated in the upgrade include more powerful
General Electric T-700 engines, four- bladed, all-composite,
hingeless, bearingless main rotor system and tail rotor, as well as
identical drive trains, hydraulics and electrical distribution
By utilizing common systems, Bell says the cost of the logistics
support process for the two helicopters will be dramatically
reduced and will allow for vastly improved shipboard operability.
Far less critical shipboard space will be needed to store spare
parts and support equipment.
When the last of the upgraded H-1's are delivered to the Fleet,
the Marine Corps will have received 280 essentially new
light/attack aircraft to operate beyond 2020 with a projected
savings in maintenance staffing and training, support equipment and
spare parts inventories of approximately $3 billion over the life
of the program.
technology will provide the H-1 Fleet with increased battlefield
survivability and greater mission success with fewer combat
losses. In addition the crashworthiness of both the UH-1Y and
the AH-1Z will be improved.
The AH-1Z first flew in December 2000, with the UH-1Y's first
flight in 2001. There are three AH-1Z and two UH-1Y aircraft
in flight testing at NAS Patuxent River. The H-1 assembly lines
will be located at Bell's 184-acre manufacturing facility located
at the Amarillo (Texas) International Airport.
This latest milestone, as well as the flights taking place in
Minnesota, add to an already impressive lineage - H-1 aircraft have
totaled more than 27 million flight hours since 1958 when the
"granddaddy" of all H-1's, the HU-1, was delivered. Since then,
more than 16,000 H-1 helicopters have been produced making it the
most successful military aircraft in aviation history.