Helicopters

Bell restarts UH-1Y Venom helicopter production for first international operator

The commonality between the UH-1Y Venom and AH-1Z Viper aircraft enabled critical component supply chains to remain active during AH-1Z production for the USMC.

Bell has restarted UH-1Y Venom helicopter production for the first international operator. Crestview Aerospace has completed manufacturing the first of eight cabins at the Crestview Florida facility. The aircraft will complete final assembly at the Bell Amarillo Assembly Center. The helicopters are part of the 2020 US Department of Defense contract awarded to Bell for the production and delivery of eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters for the government of the Czech Republic.

“Crestview Aerospace is honored and grateful for the opportunity to team with Bell on the continued production of the UH-1Y cabin for the first international customer,” said Paul Kohlmeier, senior vice president, Strategy and Business Development, Crestview Aerospace, in a Bell news release. “Crestview continues to build in the same high quality and reliability into the international Venom helicopters that underpin the aircraft currently operated by the United States Marine Corps around the world.”

As already reported, Bell delivered the final UH-1Y for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) program of record in April 2018 and has continued to produce and deliver the AH-1Z Viper as part of the H-1 production contract for 349 H-1 aircraft, consisting of 160 UH-1Y and 189 AH-1Z.

The Bell UH-1Y is a combat-proven utility helicopter slated to support the USMC and Czech Republic missions for the next four decades. The Yankee engages threats, delivers or exfiltrate personnel and performs under the most punishing operating conditions, making it the ultimate tactical utility helicopter. The Bell UH-1Y was first deployed with the USMC in 2009. The “Yankee” operates in the most extreme environments, from Arctic cold to desert heat.

The Venom and the Viper are based on the Vietnam-era family of Huey helicopters, the UH-1 Iroquois and the derivative AH-1 Cobra. The modern variants share 85 percent of their parts including a common tail boom, engines, rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software and controls. The commonality between the aircraft enabled critical component supply chains to remain active during AH-1Z production for the USMC.

“Time, logistics, and man-hours are all strategic resources,” said Mike Deslatte, vice president and H-1 program director, Bell. “Commonality helps ensure everything between the Viper and Venom, from manufacturing, maintenance, and upgrades, remains seamless while simultaneously providing lower program and life cycle costs. It’s a real tactical advantage on multiple levels.”

The UH-1Y and AH-1Z aircraft are specifically designed and produced for expeditionary operations. Together, they provide a full spectrum of military operations, unlike any other helicopter duo.

Bell anticipates USMC production through early 2022, followed by continued production for foreign military customers. Bell has two signed Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases in production, Bahrain and the Czech Republic.

Photo credit: Bell

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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