US Air Force: Why the Huey U-ey?

This week the US Air Force has seemingly opened up a competition for the replacement of its UH-1N Iroquois fleet.

An industry day for interested venders will now be held in late August 2015 to discuss the requirement.

This contradicts the US FY16 defence budget, which pretty clearly stated that the UH-1N replacement would be second-hand US Army UH-60As upgraded to L models for the task.

What we are puzzled about at Shephard Towers is why the U-turn? In my story I ponder some of the possible reasons and what aircraft could be in the running for the capability gap. If any rotorheads have any ideas feel free to comment below.

A right front view of a UH-1N Iroquois helicopter from the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 (HML/A-269).

For now let’s take a look at some UH-1N trivia.

The Huey has been in service with the USAF Global Strike Command for more than 40 years.UH-1n 1

The first Bell UH-1N model utility aircraft, derived from the UH-1H, flew on 16 April 1969 and since then has been in service with the US Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force as well as internationally.

The US Marine Corps has already retired their aircraft as of 2014 replacing the UH-1Ns with Bell UH-1Y Venoms as part of the H-1 programme.

The UH-1N is a medium twin engine and twin piloted aircraft and can carry up to 14 passengers. In a cargo configuration it can be used to carry up to 2,268kg of load.

Canada thuey_4_001Canadian forces also used the UH-1N, designated the CH-135, purchasing 50 helicopters in the early 1970s. The Canadians retired their aircraft somewhat earlier than the Americans with the retirement of the aircraft beginning in 1996.

Famous for its robust construction, the UH-1 family has been put through a lot over the years – although not without incident, as this video shows.

An outline of the circumstances surrounding the crash can be found here.

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