UH-1H "Huey" – Page under
Monday September 04, 2006
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE: The PAFs
UH-1 fleet is the most active, widely used and most numerous equipment used by
the PAF. That together with it’s olive drab low viz paint scheme also
makes it the hardest to keep track of. It is so common that people don’t make much note of them. The
next time you see one, please try and take a picture and make a note of it’s serial and send it to
The PAF now operates five versions of the Huey – the
most common being the UH-1H, the similar but different AB-205, the AB-212, the
AB-412 and the newest member of the family – the Huey2. There are differences
in detail between each of them. For purposes of discussion, we will
discuss the more common version on this page – the H, the 205 and the HueyII.
The other will be discussed on their own pages.
The UH-1H is a single rotor helicopter powered by a
Lycoming T53-L13BA-10A turbine engine producing 1400 shaft horsepower. The PAF
normally flies it with a crew of two pilots and two door gunners manning an
M60D 7.62 mg on each side. Between 8 to 9 troops can
be carried in the cabin. Maximum internal fuel capacity is 832 liters
or 220 US gal. Maximum endurance with maximum fuel load is 2.5 hours. Maximum range
at maximum gross weight and with no fuel reserves is 258 miles.
The B-205 is the civilian version of the Huey
produced by Bell and does not come from the Italian production line. The
major external physical difference between the military version and the B-205 is
that the latter has it’s tail rotor on the starboard side while the former has
it on the port side. See Bell 205 page for more details.
The Huey II is the latest
incarnation of the Huey in PAF service. It is basically the manufacturers
(Bell Textron) upgrade program for the H model. It was a market decision
on the part of the Bell to offer the program to existing operators, especially
those that in the past have relied on support from the US Army logistical
system. It basically involves replacing the most problematic parts of the
H model with newer parts taken from other successful Bell programs like the
Model 212/214. Customers can opt for only specific parts of the upgrade or
can go all in for the full upgrade. Argentina for example declined to
replace the nose of the aircraft but did opt for the motive system upgrade
(engine, tail rotor, main rotor). The PAF went all in.
Huey II changes: There
are a number of major differences between the H model and the newer HueyII.
The engine was replaced with a newer version of the T53, the T53-L-703 with an
additional 400 horsepower for a total of 1,800 horsepower. This gives the
type an increased payload from a max of 450 kgs (1,000 pounds) to 1,50 kgs or
3,000 lbs. It can carry more people (within the limits of its fuselage of
course) and performs better in hot and high conditions making it much safer.
The engine is also more reliable and offers better fuel economy and therefore
greater range. The other two major changes are to the dynamic systems –
the tail rotor was moved to give it more authority and the older rotor was
replaced from one derived from the 212 to better handle the increased
Most PAF aircraft are painted olive drab like the US Army
counterparts with black serials and insignia. PAF Hueys delivered from US Army
stocks are generally equipped with wire cutters above and below the front of the
cockpit, also called the "Wire Strike Protection System". Some have also come equipped with extended tail pipes for improved
infra-red protection, though these features are not common fleet-wide.
This aircraft has borne the brunt of the PAFs counter
insurgency effort since the first four brand new Hueys were delivered in 1969.
Since then the PAF has received over 120 Hueys with three more coming in 2003
from US stocks. Attrition, reflecting usage, has been high.
The PAF has had a Huey servicing and engine overhaul
capability since the 70’s though this, like so many other programs has suffered
from gross under funding and outright neglect. It is the only aircraft that the PAF can overhaul and
service from the skids up including the engines. However, since parts have to come from overseas, it can take
up to two years to get parts funded, ordered and delivered so the overhaul
pipeline is quite long and the PAF has at times resorted to picking apart
airframes to keep others flying. Aircraft due for overhauls get usable
parts removed while parts requiring overhaul are preserved until such time that
the funds are available to put them back together and foreign sourced parts are
funded, ordered and delivered.
UH-1Hs normally operate in two aircraft flights and carry a
two gun armament (two 7.62mm M60D machine guns mostly though at times some have
been equipped with older .30 cal Browning LMGs) . The PAF has outfitted
some Hueys with rocket pods and forward firing gun pods in addition to the twin
7.62mg M60 armament though this is uncommon. The guns themselves are
generally used for defensive purposes to lay down suppressive fire though there
have been occasions where Huey have provided gun fire support to engaged ground
troops while orbiting over an engagement area – it usually being the only form
of air support around.
It is primarily used as a troop transport,
medevac and general support duties, flying from various PAF
locations and bases across the country. PAF Hueys also regularly operate
from Philippine Navy LSTs and Logistics support vessels, all of which are
equipped with helipads. These ships are also used to deploy helicopters from
one end of the Philippines to the other when self-deploying them was neither
practical or desired.
When funding was adequate, the PAF was able to mount mass
troop insertions using up to 15 Hueys. Those days are long gone and flights of
two or four are more common.
Of the more than 120 units
originally delivered prior to 2006, only about 55 remained
in the inventory with about 45 or so flyable on a good day a number up
considerably since the early eighties when the PAF lost its American support.
In spite of the improvements, lack of funding is
still keeping a large number of units
grounded and as a consequence, there are never enough Hueys. Those units that remain operational have to fly more to make up for
the decreasing numbers while the increased flying time in turn contributes to
the further decline of the fleet as time is used up and components wear out
(e.g., a Huey transmission has to be replaced or overhauled every 1,100 flying
hours, tail rotor blades every 1,200 hours). It is a vicious circle.
The PAF’s maintenance worries
have somewhat been alleviated by two factors – the US Army dropped plans to stop
supporting the Huey so the PAF can still avail of that assistance pipeline and
two, the revived alliance with the US in its war on terror. This has done
much to improve funding levels and increased the number of operational aircraft
for the PAF with much of the funds being provided by the US in the form of
grants or outright assistance.
A large part of US assistance
has come in the form of US helicopter transfers. Though some Hueys came by
way of Singapore. By early 2006, the PAF took delivery of the last of 20
Hueys acquired through Singapore Technologies. The Huey II upgrade program
was scaled back to two units while the rest of the 600 million pesos that were
allocated for 10 Huey IIs were instead diverted to acquiring 20 zero
timed/refurbished Hueys from the open market (through open bidding). The
program was awarded to Singapore Technologies and contrary to other reports, the
Singapore Hueys are not ex-RSAF machines but are ex US Army. Singapore
Technologies simply won the contract to overhaul them. The Hueys were bought in
the open market and shipped to Singapore for overhaul. They were not acquired
from Amarc stocks.
A further two batches of Hueys
(50 and 8 and 10) are due directly from the US. The US is providing the
aircraft free of charge while the PAF is paying for their refurbishment in the
US as well as subsidizing the actual shipment of the aircraft to the Philippines
once refurbishment is completed. The 10 UH-1 airframes are going to be delivered
from US stocks unrefurbished and will be used to provide the PAF with parts sources to get a further Hueys in
service and to help maintain the new deliveries. By the time all is said
and done, the PAF will have helo numbers at levels it has not had since the 70s.