Bell AH-1Z/UH-1Y Fleet Passes 500,000 Flight Hours


Bell Textron announced on Wednesday that the combined fleet of AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom twin-engine attack and utility helicopters has logged more than 500,000 flight hours. Primarily operated by the U.S. Marine Corps, the models saw their first use in military operations in 2010. According to Bell, it has built nearly 400 AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters to date.

“We are proud that the first 500,000 flight hours of the UH-1Y and AH-1Z included constant deployments to austere deserts, numerous types of naval vessels, and frigid cold environments in support of U.S. and allied service members on the ground and at sea,” said Bell H-1 program manager Nate Green. “With the Viper and Venom sharing 85 percent commonality of parts, a major advantage of this program is that a single readiness improvement or capability upgrade can often support both aircraft.”

Designed for missions including attack, aerial reconnaissance and escort, the AH-1Z replaced the AH-1W Super Cobra, which was retired from service in 2020. The UH-1Y replaced the UH-1N Huey and covers missions such as battlefield resupply, troop inserts and close air support. Both models were developed for an H-1 helicopter upgrade program launched by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1996.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Since the Black Hawk will eventually be replaced with the V-280 Tiltrotor by the Army this reminds me of the old Huey joke. “When the last Black Hawk goes to the boneyard, the crew will ride back on a Huey.” Who knows, eh? Heard that years ago when I was an A&P at PHI in Lafayette, Louisiana.

  2. What do they call it if and when the military orders an upgrade/follow-on to the “Z” model AH-1? Has it ever happened before?

    • I don’t know of a case where they used the whole alphabet on an aircraft itself, but it does happen with components and upgrades to them. After “Z” comes “AA” then “AB” then “AC”. I remember one device that went as far as “BC” because they counted every new software load as a new component modification.

  3. Based on the lessons learned from the current war in Ukraine, the Army and Marines might want to rethink their use of helicopters in combat. The Russian helicopter fleet has been taking a real beating from shoulder-launched antiaircraft missiles.