Bell UH-1Y Venom

The Bell UH-1Y Venom[4] (also called Super Huey)[5] is a twin-engined, medium-sized utility helicopter, built by Bell Helicopter under the H-1 upgrade program of the United States Marine Corps. One of the latest members of the numerous Huey family, the UH-1Y is also called "Yankee", based on the NATO phonetic alphabet pronunciation of its variant letter.[6]

UH-1Y Venom
A UH-1Y takes off from the deck of USS San Diego
Role Utility helicopter
National origin United States
Manufacturer Bell Helicopter
First flight 20 December 2001[1]
Introduction 8 August 2008
Status In service
Primary user United States Marine Corps
Produced 2001–present
Number built 92[2]
Unit cost
US$26.2 million (flyaway cost, FY2014)[3]
Developed from Bell UH-1N Twin Huey

The UH-1Y was to have been remanufactured from UH-1Ns, but in 2005, it was approved for the aircraft to be built as new. After entering service in 2008, the UH-1Y replaced the USMC's aging fleet of UH-1N Twin Huey light utility helicopters, first introduced in the early 1970s. It is currently in full-rate production,[7] with deliveries to the Marines to be completed in late 2018.[8]


In 1996, the United States Marine Corps launched the H-1 upgrade program. A contract was signed with Bell Helicopter for upgrading 100 UH-1Ns into UH-1Ys and upgrading 180 AH-1Ws into AH-1Zs.[9][10] The H-1 program created completely modernized attack and utility helicopters with considerable design commonality to reduce operating costs. The UH-1Y and AH-1Z share a common tailboom, engines, rotor system, drivetrain, avionics architecture, software, controls, and displays for over 84% identical components.[11][12]

Over the years, new avionics and radios, modern door guns, and safety upgrades have greatly increased the UH-1N's empty weight. With a maximum speed around 100 knots (190 km/h) and an inability to lift much more than its own crew, fuel, and ammunition, the UH-1N had limited capabilities as a transport.

The Y-model upgrades pilot avionics to a glass cockpit, adds further safety modifications, and provides the UH-1 with a modern FLIR system. However, the biggest improvement is an increase in engine power. By replacing the engines and the two-bladed rotor system with four composite blades, the Y-model returns the Huey to the utility role for which it was designed. Originally, the UH-1Y was to have been remanufactured from UH-1N airframes, but in April 2005, approval was granted to build them as new helicopters.[7][13]

The Y-model updates an airframe that has been central to Marine Corps aviation in Iraq. The Huey has many mission requirements, including command and control (C2), escort, reconnaissance, troop transport, medical evacuation, and close air support. Typically, detachments of two to four Hueys have been deployed with detachments of four to eight Cobras. The forward-mounted weaponry of the Cobra combined with the door guns of the Huey provides a 240° field of fire.

Bell delivered two UH-1Ys to the U.S. Marine Corps in February 2008[14] and full-rate production was begun in September 2009.[15] The Marine Corps plans to buy 160 Y-models to replace their inventory of N-models.[16]


The UH-1Y variant modernizes the UH-1 design. Its most noticeable upgrade over previous variants is a four-blade, all-composite rotor system designed to withstand up to 23 mm rounds. A 21-inch (530 mm) fuselage extension just forward of the main door has been added for more capacity. The UH-1Y features upgraded engines and transmissions, a digital cockpit with flat-panel multifunctional displays, and an 84% parts commonality with the AH-1Z. Compared to the UH-1N, the Y-model has an increased payload, almost 50% greater range, a reduction in vibration, and higher cruising speed.[11][17][18]

Operational history

The UH-1Y and AH-1Z completed their developmental testing in early 2006.[19] During the first quarter of 2006 the UH-1Ys were transferred to the Operational Test Unit at NAS Patuxent River, where they began operational evaluation testing.[20] In February 2008, the UH-1Y and AH-1Z began the second and final portion of testing.[21]

On 8 August 2008, the Marine Corps certified the UH-1Y as operationally capable and it was deployed for the first time in January 2009 as part of the aviation combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.[22][23] The UH-1N Twin Huey was retired by the Marines in August 2014, making the UH-1Y the Marine Corps' standard utility helicopter.[24]

Potential operators

On 11 October 2017, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified the United States Congress of the potential sale of 12 UH-1Ys and related systems and support to the Czech Republic for a cost of US$575 million.[25] In August 2019, Czech Republic was negotiating with the U.S. for an order for eight UH-1Y helicopters for the Czech Air Force with contract approval expected by the end of the year.[26]


 United States


Data from Bell UH-1Y guide,[11] International Directory of Civil Aircraft[34]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one or two pilots, plus crew chief, other crew members as mission requires
  • Capacity: 6,660 lb (3,020 kg) including up to ten crashworthy passenger seats, six litters or equivalent cargo[35]
  • Length: 58 ft 4 in (17.78 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 48 ft 10 in (14.88 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 7 in (4.5 m)
  • Disc area: 1,808 ft² (168.0 m²)
  • Empty weight: 11,840 lb (5,370 kg)
  • Useful load: 6,660 lb (3,020 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 18,500 lb (8,390 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × General Electric T700-GE-401C turboshaft, 1,828 shp for 2.5 min; 1,546 shp continuous (1,360 kW for 2.5 min; 1,150 kW continuous) each



See also

Related development


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  2. "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 33". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  3. "Department of Defense Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 President's Budget Submission, Aircraft Procurement, Navy, Budget Activity 01-04". Department of the Navy. April 2013. p. V1-79. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  4. DoD 4120-15L, Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles Archived 25 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. US DoD, 12 May 2004.
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  8. Bell to finish Marine Corps deliveries of UH-1Y Venom by end of 2018 Archived 30 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine. Flight International. 17 May 2018.
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  10. Bishop, Chris. Huey Cobra Gunships. Osprey Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-84176-984-3.
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  12. Rotorbreeze Magazine. Bell, October 2006.
  13. Bruno, Michael. "Wynne Approves Buy Of New UH-1Y Hueys". Aviation Week, 25 April 2005.
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  15. "Program Insider: H-1 Update". Rotor & Wing Magazine. 1 September 2009. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012.
  16. Butler, Amy. "U.S. Marines Propose AH-1Z Production Boost" Archived 18 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Aviation Week, 13 October 2010. Retrieved: 17 August 2017.
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  18. UH-1Y page Archived 25 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Bell.
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  20. "AH-1Z/UH-1Y Start OPEVAL". US Navy, 6 May 2006.
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