Hueys for Hungary, from the USMC
Hungary’s air force (Magyar Honvedseg Repulo Csapatai; MHRCS) shrank quickly after the Soviet Union fell, and its helicopter force was not spared. Its transport fleet reportedly consists of just 8 remaining Mi-8s and 7 related Mi-17s, including 2 helicopters that Finland discarded in favor of its new NH90s. The country remains active abroad, including a team training Afghanistan’s military to use Mi-17s, but their lift capacity is limited. That’s a potential issue at home as well, given vivid recent memories of the 2010 central European floods.
Like most European countries, Hungary is facing tight budgets and difficult decisions as 2011 ends. To address this situation, Hungary had been planning to buy about 30 used twin engine UH-1 Huey helicopters from the US military. The USAF is looking to replace its UH-1Ns with a new CVLSP buy, and the USMC is already replacing its aging UH-1Ns with much-improved new UH-1Y Venoms. In December 2011, the process of restoring Hungary’s helicopter fleet took its 1st official steps…
Contracts & Key Events
Dec 8/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Hungary’s official request to buy 32 equipped UH-1N Utility Helicopters, plus 20 T-400 spare engines, being provided as grant Excess Defense Articles (EDA) by US NAVAIR. The order will include day/night surveillance turrets, pilot night vision devices, simulators, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, training, and other U.S. Government and contractor support. Refurbishment is not mentioned within this set of services, but some level of work is likely.
The estimated cost is up to $426 million, or about $13.3 million per fully-equipped helicopter. Actual costs could fall below that depending on the contracts negotiated, once Hungary’s NATO-standard 15-day notice period expires. That total is much less than Hungary would pay for equipped UH-60/S70 Black Hawk helicopters, but it would be interesting to compare final costs with the cost of new-build options like Bell’s 412EPs, or Eurocopter’s EC145/UH-72A.
US Naval Air Systems Command will be the prime contractor, which points to USMC UH-1Ns as the source for the MHRCS’ new machines. Implementation once a contract is signed will require multiple U.S. Government and contractor representatives to travel to Hungary for 1 week intervals, semi-annually, for a period of 3 years for program and technical reviews, and training and maintenance support.