Attrition: Huey Hangs On

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April 12, 2011: The U.S. Army recently retired the last of its UH-1 ("Iroquois", or "Huey") helicopters in Europe. Two years ago, the last army reserve UH-1s were retired. Once ubiquitous, there are only a few hundred UH-1s left in army service, largely in training units and out-of-the-way posts (as in Europe). In another four years, all UH-1s in U.S. military service will be retired. Over two thousand UH-1s are still in service with other nations. Over 16,000 UH-1s were built, and over 4,000 were lost during the Vietnam war. The U.S. Marine Corps still uses versions of the UH-1 as a transport and a gunship.

The 4.3 ton UH-1 could carry two crew and eleven troops, and was the first military helicopter to use gas turbine (jet) engines. This allowed a lighter helicopter to carry more weight. The UH-1 served the army for fifty years, although since the 1990s, most served in reserve units.

Most of the UH-1s were replaced by the UH-60 in the 1980s. This 10.6 ton helicopter could carry more weight, and was safer to operate. Recently, the 3.6 ton UH-145 was introduced, and this will replace many of the remaining UH-1s in army service. The U.S. Marine Corps still uses an upgraded UH-1.

The UH-1 was actually a military version of a civilian helicopter design (the Bell 204). Both remained in production through the 1980s, with over 12,000 204/205s being produced.

 


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