MANILA, (PNA) – Despite flying for 53 years, the Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopter will still be effective for another 20 years, according to DND undersecretary for finance, munitions, installation and material Fernando Manalo.
Manalo also said that the “Huey”, which the Philippines has around 21 flyable models at present, is the best aircraft for peacekeeping and disaster relief missions due to its reputation as easy aircraft to fly and maintain.
“As a (former) helicopter pilot, I strongly believe that the UH-1 ‘Huey” will still be effective for the next 20 years. A lot of countries are still flying the ‘Huey” due to its excellent flying characteristics (and adequate stock of spare parts),” he added.
And despite having a number of new combat utility helicopters in its inventory, the 21 “Hueys” being sought for the Philippine Air Force can still do a lot to augment the latter’s search, combat and rescue capabilities.
The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the US Army’s requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew on Oct. 20 1956.
Ordered into production in March 1960, the UH-1 was the first turbine-powered helicopter to enter production for the United States military, and more than 16,000 have been produced worldwide.
The first combat operation of the UH-1 was in the service of the US Army during the Vietnam War. The original designation of HU-1 led to the helicopter’s nickname of “Huey”.
In September 1962, the designation was changed to UH-1, but “Huey” remained in common use. Approximately 7,000 UH-1 aircraft saw service in Vietnam.