Procurement: Hueys Flock to the Philippines

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October 10, 2007: The Philippines air force wants to buy new aircraft, but can't really afford the brand new stuff out there. As a result, the current force of refurbished 41 UH-1 helicopters may be expanded to a hundred or more. Over a thousand of UH-1s remain in service worldwide. The UH-1H, which the Philippines has, is also referred to as the "Huey II" by the manufacturer. It's 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.

The U.S. Army has hundreds of UH-1s it is retiring, and nations wishing to obtain an inexpensive, proven helicopter, have an opportunity. The UH-1H refurbs have several thousand flight hours left on them, and are relatively cheap and easy to maintain.

Another option is the UH-1HP "Huey II". These go for about $9 million each. With a new, more powerful, engine, new electronics and rebuilt frame, the refurbished UH-1HPs provide performance comparable to more recent helicopter designs. The HP model has operating costs that are 30 percent lower, and is easier to maintain. The UH-1HP is in use by several foreign countries. The five ton UH-1HP can lift about a ton more than earlier models and performs very well in hot and high environments.

The Philippines air force retired its F-5 jet fighters two years ago. What remains are some jet trainers, which can also operate as light attack aircraft, some small propeller driven transports and lots of helicopters. But the UH-1 does most of the heavy lifting (literally), providing ground troops with needed mobility in the war against terrorist and rebel groups. While the air force generals would like some new aircraft, the army generals tend to prefer more Hueys.

 


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