It’s the USMC’s most versatile chopper, performing medevac missions one moment and down and dirty close air support the next. After more than 50 years, the UH-1 Huey is still going strong in the USMC, and it has never been more versatile or deadly than in its current UH-1Y “Venom” form. Here’s video proof.
The training like shown above is key for preparing for tactical scenarios where targets are inside urban areas. It allows groups of UH-1Ys, or pairs of hunter-killer UH-1Y and AH-1Zs, to learn how to work together at employing their weapons for maximum effect while deconflicting the airspace around them to avoid harming each another in the process. It also lets them work with Joint Terminal Air Controllers on the ground, guiding them to their targets and making sure friendly forces aren't accidentally targeted.
The Marines have been loyal to the UH-1 since 1962, and the UH-1Y Venom – or Super Huey as some call it – may resemble the Hueys of the Vietnam era to some extent, but they are a far more modern and capable machines.
Powerplant: The UH-1B started out with a single 960hp turbine engine. Today, the UH-1Y packs a pair of General Electric T700-GE-401C tubroshafts with a maximum output of 1,828 hp each (around 1550 continuous hp). That’s close to four times the power of the original Marine UH-1B!
Gross Weight: The UH-1B had a maximum gross weight of 8,500 lbs. The UH-1Y has a maximum gross weight of 18,500 lbs
Performance: The UH-1B had a cruise speed of 128mph, while the UH-1Y rips through the skies at 182mph, or 155mph in economy cruise. It also has 50 percent greater range than its predecessor, the UH-1N, with over 125% more payload.
Rotors: The UH-1B had a two bladed semi-rigid metal rotor system with a two bladed tail rotor. The UH-1Y has an all composite four bladed main rotor and a similar four bladed tail rotor.
Avionics: The UH-1Y leverages a fully night vision-capable glass cockpit that incorporates a state-of-the-art navigation suite and the helicopter’s main sensor, its FLIR Systems BRITE Star thermal imaging, TV, and laser turret. This system can provide target designation, surveillance, and navigation capabilities. In the future, the advanced “Top Owl” helmet mounted sight can be integrated into the UH-1Y as it is with some of the AH-1Z Viper fleet. Additionally, the UH-1Y is fitted with the latest radios and data-link capabilities. As such, the helicopter can be used as a command and control platform for forward deployed commanders.
Survivability: A whole slew of improvements were made to the “Twin Huey” to make the UH-1Y more survivable. Its airframe is much strong than its predecessor, its components are installed in such a way that minimizes migration during a crash, it has crash absorbing seats and landing gear, self sealing fuel tanks and a fuel vapor inerting system that helps protect from fire after a crash or after receiving battle damage.
Defenses: The UH-1Y is fitted with a modern electronic warfare and self protection suite that includes a laser warning receiver, radar warning receiver, and a missile approach warning system. All this is tied to an ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser system. This integrated self protection suite can automatically react to threats, allowing the crew to maneuver their way out of them.
Missions: The UH-1Y’s is a jack of all trades, with command and control (C2), reconnaissance, troop transport, special operations insertion, medical evacuation, close air support, escort, and logistics all being within its capabilities. For its close air support mission set it can be armed with 7.62mm GAU-17 miniguns, 7.62 M240 machine guns or .50 caliber GAU-16 machine guns. It also has two stations for 70mm rocket pods. With a whole new set of laser guided 70mm rockets coming online, the Venom will be able to have a high-volume precision engagement capability which will drastically expand the aircraft’s close air support potential.
Commonality: The UH-1Y shares the same engines, drivetrain, many of the same avionics, and the unique folding rotor system as the AH-1Z Viper derivative of the Cobra attack helicopter. This boosts the ease of logistics and sustainment for both helos, especially when forward deployed, and results in synergies when it comes to upgrading and evolving both helicopters over their lifespan. In all, the two helicopters are said to have 84 percent commonality, which is remarkable even considering the AH-1 was originally derived from the UH-1.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com