Bell Textron announced on Thursday that the fleet of AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom attack and utility helicopters has passed the 400,000-flight-hour mark. The aircraft, which have been deployed for military operations since 2010, are the result of an upgrade program for H-1 helicopters launched by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1996. The Marine Corps AH-1Zs and UH-1Ys are expected to remain in service into the 2040s.
“Reaching the 400,000-hour milestone represents the collective efforts of the men and women dedicated to upholding the H-1’s legacy of success,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 vice president and program director. “The AH-1Z and UH-1Y program exemplifies the vital cooperation between industry and program to ensure we maintain an overwhelming competitive edge against future enemies.”
According to Bell, production of Marine Corps Vipers and Venoms will continue through 2022. The AH-1Z is capable of attack, aerial reconnaissance and escort missions while the UH-1Y provides functions such as battlefield resupply, troop inserts and close air support. Designed for both sea- and land-based operations, the models have 85 percent of their major systems and parts in common.