Lebanon is buying 18 upgraded UH-1H transport helicopters for about $10 million each (including training, spare parts and maintenance equipment). Lebanon already has 23 older UH-1s. Lebanon uses its UH-1s for combat as well as transportation. For combat the Lebanese have modified the UH-1s to carry 250 kg (550 pound) and 400 kg (880 pounds) and launch tubes for multiple 68mm unguided rockets. The new UH-1Hs will replace some of the older UH-1Hs which are worn out and increasingly grounded for maintenance issues.
The UH-1H is 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 H model has a more powerful engine and more capable electronics than the older models. New helicopters cost 5-10 times as much as refurbed UH-1s. The latest such version of the H model is also called the "Huey II" by the manufacturer.
The UH-1 design is half a century old and is considered the first "modern" (gas-turbine engine) helicopter design. The basic UH-1 is a 4.3 ton aircraft with a max speed of 217 kilometers an hour and range of 500 kilometers. Max sortie length is 2.5 hours and max load was 1.7 tons. Designed in the late 1950s in the United States it entered service before 1960.
Over 16,000 UH-1s (and variants like the gunship and Bell 204 civilian model) were manufactured between 1956 and 1991. Despite over 5,000 being destroyed in Vietnam, several thousand are still in use worldwide. Many firms specialize in refurbishing and maintaining them. A refurbished UH-1 is good for another ten years of service. The Bell 204 evolved into the Bell 212 and 412. The 412 is more capable and reliable and will last for decades. Introduced in 1981, nearly a thousand 412s have been built so far and they are popular with military as well as commercial users.