Bell Textron has announced the restart of UH-1Y VENOM helicopter production for the first international operator. Crestview Aerospace has completed manufacturing the first of eight cabins at the Crestview, Florida, facility. The aircraft will complete final assembly at the Bell Amarillo Assembly Centre. The helicopters are part of the 2020 US DoD contract awarded to Bell for the production and delivery of eight UH-1Y and four AH-1Z helicopters for the Government of the Czech Republic.
Bell delivered the final UH-1Y for the United States Marine Corps (USMC) programme of record in April 2018 and has continued to produce and deliver the AH-1Z as part of the H-1 production contract for 349 H-1 aircraft, consisting of 160 UH-1Y and 189 AH-1Z.
The UH-1Y shares 85 per cent commonality of parts with the AH-1Z. The commonality between the aircraft enabled critical component supply chains to remain active during AH-1Z production for the USMC.
The UH-1Y and AH-1Z share the same engines, integrated mission system and dynamic components, such as the four-bladed rotor system. Both aircraft are designed and produced for expeditionary operations. Bell anticipates USMC production through early 2022, followed by continued production for foreign military customers.