Warplanes: UH-1s Forever

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June 12, 2007: The Philippines recently received ten refurbished American UH-1H helicopters. Another ten will arrive later in the year. The Philippines has received over 130 UH-1s since 1969. Many have been lost to accidents and hostile fire, or have just worn out. About sixty, including the ten that just arrived, are in service. Some 90 percent of the current UH-1s are operational, and the Filipinos have been pleased with the performance of these aircraft. The UH-1s are expensive to operate, costing nearly a thousand dollars per hour in the air. While the Philippines pays its crews and maintenance people less; fuel and spare parts cost the same as they do in the United States. There, the U.S. Army has retired over 700 UH-1s during the last five years, and is phasing out this Vietnam era design completely. Many police, fire and other governmental organizations are glad to get their hands on these retired helicopters. Even with the refurb cost, of about 1.1 million each, the UH-1s are still effective, and a bargain at the price (free from the government, plus refurb expense). A refurbished Uh-1 is good for about ten years of service.

The Philippines has used its UH-1s to fight Communist and Islamic rebels, as well as for disaster relief. The Philippines would like to shift to a fleet of new helicopters, and that may happen. But new helicopters cost about ten times as much as refurbs. Over a thousand of UH-1s remain in service world wide. The UH-1H is referred to as the "Huey II" by the manufacturer. Its a 4.7 ton aircraft, with a max range of 469 kilometers, max endurance of 2.8 hours and the ability to carry over two tons of cargo. The UH-1 design is half a century old, and is considered the first "modern" (gas-turbine engine) helicopter design.

 


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