Marines: April 22, 2002


The Marines are just starting a program to upgrade 100 UH-1Ns into UH-1Ys and 180 AH-1Ws to AH-1Zs, but costs are climbing and the Pentagon (short of money) is looking at the program as a target for cuts. Even worse, so is Congress, as the increase of 68% is above the 25% limit they imposed for programs that must be re-approved or cancelled. Bell Helicopter is scrambling to save the program by reporting its impressive test results. The UH-1Y prototype has made 50 flights, and has reached 190 knots in a shallow dive. The prototype AH-1Z has flown for 224 hours, reaching 222 knots. The first refitted helicopters will enter service in 2007.Stephen V Cole


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