The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has been committed to the Bell UH-1 "Huey" platform for decades. In its original form, the helicopter debuted in 1959 and saw considerable action in the Vietnam War (1955-1975). In time, the service branch upgraded to the UH-1N "Twin Huey" model of twin-engine layout promising better performance and broadened mission capabilities. These arrived in 1969 and went on serve the host country as well as a slew of foreign operators.
Requiring a new, all-modern multirole transport type at the end of the last century, USMC authorities began reviewing available viable options. This evolved a new modernization program to cover work on both the AH-1W "SuperCobra" attack helicopter platform and the UH-1N "Twin Hueys". In 1996, Bell Helicopter was formally handed the contract and the result of this endeavor produced the AH-1Z "Viper" attack form and the UH-1Y "Venom" transport (the latter also known as the "Super Huey"). The contract was originally slated to cover modifications to existing Huey helicopters but this eventually became a commitment to new-build units - ninety-two having been completed to date (2017).
Part of the program was to reduce maintenance and repair costs while also improving logistical friendliness so several measures were taken by Bell to fulfill this end of the requirement. The two helicopters share the same powerplants (including transmission), avionics, all-glass instrument panels (as well as the software) and tailboom assemblies. Additionally, the two-bladed main rotors of the Twin Hueys have been given up in favor of a composite structure showcasing four total blades. The result is a more efficient and powerful rotary-wing system that works favorably in conjunction with the modified Viper attack platform for, between the two designs, there is nearly 85% commonality of parts.
The helicopter is crewed by up to two pilots seated side-by-side aft of the short nose cone with good vision out-of-the-cockpit thanks to oversized windshields. Entry-exit is by way of hinged automobile-style doors along the fuselage sides. Aft of this section is the passenger compartment which is given large, rectangular sliding entry/exit doors. The twin engine compartment is fitted over the roof and these systems drive the main rotor blade overhead as well as the four-bladed rotor unit at the tail (set to portside). Horizontal planes are set well-aft along the tail boom. The undercarriage is a simple four-point skid arrangement. An optics set is fitted to the "chin" position of the aircraft and the fuselage supports two outboard hardpoints for rocket or gun pods. The door positions can also mount machine guns or Gatling Guns atop pintle systems. In this way, the UH-1Y can be fielded as a gunship.
The Super Huey is powered by 2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines developing up to 1,828 horsepower. Of note are the large suppression covers installed at each engine's exhaust port. The Venom is capable of speeds nearing 230 miles per hour with a cruising speed close to 190 mph. It features a mission endurance of over three hours and can reach a service ceiling up to 20,000 feet while sporting a rate-of-climb of 2,520 feet-per-minute.
Testing of Viper prototypes spanned from 2006 to 2008 and the series was formally in-service at the beginning of 2009 - ready to partake in American-led actions in Iraq. Nine total squadrons of the USMC now field the Venom. These are actively replacing the fleet of UH-1N Twin Hueys in still service.
October 2017 - The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of the UH-1Y Venom helicopter to the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is seeking to replace its aging fleet of Mil Mi-24 transport-assault helicopters in the same role through a 12-strong order. Other candidates in the running are the Sikorsky UH-60M / S-70i, the Leonardo AW139M and the Airbus Helicopters H125M.
May 2019 - The Czech Republic is eyeing the Bell UH-1Y, Bell AH-1Z, and Sikorsky UH-60M "Black Hawk" helicopters as potential replacements for its aging fleet of Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters.
December 2019 - The Czech Republic has been named a new operator of the UH-1Y 'Venom' helicopter series through an order of eight of the mark. This is in addition to four AH-1Z 'Viper' attack helicopters being purchased. These will be used to succeed an aging stock of Soviet-era Mil Mi-24 'Hind' gunship helicopters.
July 2021 - Bell Heliopters has reopened previously closed production lines for the UH-1Y Venom helicopter, this to satisfy a 2019 Czech Republic (Czechia) order.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
General transport functionality to move supplies/cargo or personnel (including wounded and VIP) over range.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
58.3 ft (17.78 m)
48.8 ft (14.88 m)
14.8 ft (4.50 m)
11,839 lb (5,370 kg)
18,519 lb (8,400 kg)
+6,680 lb (+3,030 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Bell UH-1Y Venom production variant)
2 x General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft engines developing 1,828 horsepower each and driving a four-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor.
2 x 70mm (2.75") Hydra 70 OR APKWS II rocket pods; 2 x 7.62mm M240D GPMG on pintle mountings at doors; 2 x 12.7mm GAU-16/A Gatling Guns on pintle mountings at doors; 2 x 7.62mm GAU-17/A Gatling Guns on pintle mountings at doors.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2
Note: Diagram above does not take into account inline hardpoints (mounting positions seated one-behind-the-other).
UH-1Y "Venom" - Base Series Designation
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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