Snakes and Rotors: The H-1 Helicopter Program
December 28/16: AH-1Z Cobra attack helicopters operated by the US Navy will receive Target Sight Systems provided by Lockheed Martin. Valued at $150 million, the deal also includes production orders for the government of Pakistan under the foreign military sales program. Options included in the contract could raise the value to $284 million. The Target Sight System is a large-aperture mid-wave forward-looking infrared sensor designed to identify and designate targets at maximum weapon range, increasing the Cobra operator’s survivability and lethality.
The US Marines’ helicopter force is aging at all levels, from banana-shaped CH-46 Sea Knight transports that are far older than their pilots, to the 1980s-era UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters that make up the Corps’ helicopter assault force. While the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey program has staggered along for almost 2 decades under accidents, technical delays, and cost issues, replacement of the USMC’s backbone helicopter assets has languished. Given the high-demand scenarios inherent in the current war, other efforts are clearly required.
Enter the H-1 program, the USMC’s plan to remanufacture older helicopters into new and improved UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters. The new versions would discard the signature 2-bladed rotors for modern 4-bladed improvements, redo the aircraft’s electronics, and add improved engines and weapons to offer a new level of performance. It seemed simple, but hasn’t quite worked out that way. The H-1 program has encountered its share of delays and issues, but the program survived its review, and continued on into production and deployment.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article covers the H-1 helicopter programs’ rationales and changes, the upgrades involved in each model, program developments and annual budgets, the full timeline of contracts and key program developments, and related research sources.
The H-1 Helicopters
UH-1Y & AH-1Z: Performance Issues
The H-1 Upgrade Program
H-1 Upgrade: Force Size & Structure Shifts
H-1 Program: Budgets & Industrial Partners
Contracts and Key Events
FY 2015 – 2017
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 1999 – 2004
Additional Readings & Sources
Helicopters & Ancillaries
News & Views
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