Bell Helicopter, a Textron company announced at 8:00 AM Tuesday, May 9th, four
H-1 aircraft, two AH-1Zs and two UH-1Ys, headed west from Patuxent River Naval
Air Station, Maryland to begin the Program's long awaited Operations Evaluation
The aircraft will fly to China Lake Naval Air Station in California where they
will spend the next six months undergoing numerous tests and evaluations to
determine the H-1 aircraft operational suitability. Start of OPEVAL represents
the last exit criteria before a Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) is to decide on
Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) phase III.
The H-1 Upgrade Program will replace the current fleet of AH-1W and high time
UH-1N aircraft by providing 180 AH-1Z and 100 UH-1Y new, zero-time, aircraft
starting in 2006. Key to the program is the fact that the two different models
of aircraft have 84% commonality of parts. Initial Operational Capability (IOC)
is scheduled for 2008.
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