Procurement: August 1, 2004

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The U.S. Marine Corps remanufacturing program for its Vietnam era UH-1N transport and AH-1W gunships has begun actual production. The marines are spending $242 million on the project this year, and will convert six UH-1Ns to UH-1Ys, and three AH-1Ws to AH-1Zs. Eventually 280 helicopters (100 UH-1N and 180 AH-1W) will be rebuilt at a cost of about $4 million each. New rotors, rebuilt airframes and new electronics will make the aircraft more capable, and eventually bring maintenance cost savings of about $14 million per aircraft. Part of this is achieved by increasing the number of components common to both aircraft (eventually, there will be 85 percent commonality), and also by installing sturdier and more reliable components. The marines expect the refurbished aircraft to be as effective as the successors to these designs (the UH-60 and AH-64.) For the marines, this is probably true. Marines dont have to move their helicopters as far, or carrying as much, as the army does. So for most jobs, the older helicopters, with new engines and electronics, can do the job just as well, without the longer range and greater carrying capacity of the UH-60 and AH-64. 

 


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