That’s right, the Air Force is interested in keeping its nearly 40 year old fleet of UH-1N Hueys flying for another 30 years!
After years of efforts to replace the aging birds with a slightly bigger, newer chopper capably of ferrying security teams around the service’s vast ICBM fields, the Air Force seems to have abandoned hope of replacing the venerable Hueys and is now focused on making them last and fly faster, further and in any conditions….for a really long time. Can you say budget cuts?
Here’s what the service says it wants in an April 17 Request for Information on the matter:
WR-ALC/GRU Rotary Branch, on behalf of Air Force Global Strike Command is seeking to identify potential sources with the capability of increasing sustainment and capability shortfalls of the UH-1 helicopter. In terms of mission capable (MC) rates, the UH-1 remains one of the most reliable platforms within the US Air Force inventory. To provide the UH-1 with an additional 30 years of service and retain its MC rates, the Rotary Branch is attempting to resolve sustainability and capability shortfalls. The objective of this statement of requirements is to seek sources sought to potentially increase the UH-1s endurance, range, speed, all-weather capability, survivability and provide modernized communication and navigation system capabilities.
To ascertain the capabilities of interested parties to meet the requirements of this effort, interested parties should submit detailed information on their approach for meeting these requirements. The following potential requirements are being provided as part of the market survey to:
•· increase the endurance
•· increase the range
•· increase the speed
•· provide all-weather capability
•· provide greater communication and navigation system capabilities
•· increase survivability
Planned Acquisition: The Government is seeking interested sources to fulfill FY14-18 requirements.
The air service — Global Strike Command in particluar — has complained that the 40-year old UH-1Ns are getting expensive to maintain and that they can’t carry a full security team or even make it all the way across a missile field without stopping to refuel. The Air Force also maintains a squadron of Hueys to ferry VIPs around Washington DC and a handful of others scattered around the world doing everything from basic utility flights to search and rescue missions.
The service’s push to keep its current Huey’s comes on the heels of its purchase of surplus Marine Corps UH-1Ns that the Air Force is refurbishing in order to augment its aging fleet and the cancellation of its effort to buy a Huey replacement known as the Common Vertical Lift Support Platform (CVLSP).
Click here to read the rest of Global Strike Command’s request for information from companies that think they can keep the Vietnam era UH-1N’s flying for another 30 years.