Three new Bell UH-1Y “Yankee” helicopters, attached to Marine Medium Helicopter (HMM) Squadron 163 (Reinforced) returned from a six-month deployment aboard USS Boxer (LHD-4) to Camp Pendleton, Aug. 1, 2009. HMM-163 was the first squadron to deploy with the new UH-1Y “Yankee” tactical utility helicopter as part of the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG).
The UH-1Y is the most significant upgrade ever made to the venerable and battle-proven UH-1N, more commonly known as the Huey. The Yankee also shares 84 percent parts commonality with the AH-1Z “Zulu” (also part of the H-1 Upgrade Program) that is replacing the AH-1W Super Cobra.
Reports from Marines using the new Yankee on deployment indicate its performance lived up expectations. Major Mark Angersbach, the senior pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), Detachment 3, said the Yankee gave them better performance and power margins over the November, allowing them to complete every utility mission they were designed to fly.
At the heart of the upgrade is a new four-bladed, all-composite and ballistically tolerant rotor system. Both aircraft have upgraded engines and transmissions, integrated digital cockpit featuring multifunction flat panels, crash-worthy seating for all crew and passengers, and increased payload capabilities.
“The Yankee really showed that it brings tremendous capabilities to the MAGTF, and we are expecting equally impressive results from its sibling, the AH-1Z, in another year or two,” said Colonel Harry Hewson, Program Manager for the H-1 Acquisition Program Activity at NAVAIR. “This deployment was the culmination of years of hard work by a team of pros from Bell Helicopter, NAVAIR, and the Marine Corps.”
While significantly faster and having greater range than their predecessors, the AH-1Z and UH-1Y also reduce maintenance and logistics demands on Marine Corps maintainers through their parts commonality.
The Corps plans to field a total of 123 UH-1Ys and 226 AH-1Zs, with a final delivery date of 2021. The next Yankee is slated for delivery in Sept. with two more due in October. The next Zulu is expected to come off the line in December, bringing the total fleet to 21 Yankees and seven Zulus by the end of this year.