Bell's New Birds

Bell Helicopter has extended one of its military contracts to help supply the Marine Corps with 280 upgraded aircraft.

Today, they rolled out the first production units of the upgraded H-1 Hueys and Cobras. 
"Today's event is a very important one, the rollout of the first production utility H-1 and the first production attack H-1. One of my highest priorities is providing the equipment and systems that the men and women fighting the global war on terrorism need to win and come home," says Delores Etter, Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

The two aircraft were in need of an upgrade having flown more than 60,000 miles in the war on terror since 2003. 

The utility H-1, also called the Yankee, is used to move things around such as supplies and troops. The Zulu, or the attack H-1, is used on the battle field.  Their missions may be different but they do have similar qualities such as the same rotor blades, transmissions, and drive systems making it able to interchange between the two aircraft. 

"The Marine Corps needs the Yankee and the Zulu, we needed them yesterday. We're engaged in a long fight against an enemy who fights dirty. We are counting on the Yankee and Zulu to give us a match on their dirty tactics and we are sure that these air craft behind me will give us that over match in the future," says Colonel Glen Walters of the U.S. Marines.

The refurbished 180 Zulus and 100 Yankees will be traveling over seas once they are completed. They will be sent to Iraq and Afganistan to help Marine Corps. Right now, they have three of the four helicopters scheduled to be delivered to the Marines by the end of 2006.

Bell officials tell us they will meet the deadlines to have these air craft ready. Right now, they have twenty-three helicopters in production. Seventeen of those are H-1 utility choppers and seven are attack H-1's. Throughout the next few years, Bell plans to refurbish at least twenty four air craft a year. 

Bell adds V-22 production is ahead of schedule and there should be two more operational units ready to deploy next year.