PHILADELPHIA, 24 Feb. 2012. The U.S. Department of Defense is looking to helicopter support experts at Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Hurst, Texas, to provide spare parts for the U.S. Army OH-58 Kiowa and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps H-1 Huey military helicopters under terms of an $87 million contract announced Thursday from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Aviation group in Philadelphia.
The contract to Bell Helicopter is for 1,162 commercial "consumable items," which is government language that describes parts for helicopters and rotorcraft that wear out with use.
Helicopters, particularly those used by the military are maintenance-intensive. Not only does these military rotorcraft operate in harsh environmental conditions involving dust, dirt, and temperature extremes, but they also fly missions over difficult and sometimes-contested terrain where helicopter malfunctions often cost lives.
Rotorcraft, unlike fixed-wing aircraft, have no capability to glide if their engines fail during operations. The only means of survival for helicopters when their engines quit during flight is a maneuver called an autorotation, which seeks to use the aircraft's downward movement through the air to turn the unpowered rotor quickly enough for the pilot to pull up quickly before hitting the ground to minimize impact.
Helicopter pilots and crew members whose aircraft are forced to use autorotation t make emergency landings often suffer spinal-compression and other injuries because the autorotation typically can only slow a falling helicopter, not halt its downward motion altogether.
With these factors in mind, Army and Marine Corps officials are working with Bell Helicopter to keep their ageing OH-58 and UH-1 rotorcraft fleets in well-maintained condition.
The original Bell UH-1 design has been in service since the 1950s and is best known for its service with air cavalry and helicopter air assault troops during the Vietnam War. The Marines fly the twin-engine UH-1N Twin Huey and UH-1Y Venom versions. The upgraded UH-1Y has a lengthened cabin, four-blade rotor, and two GE T700 engines.
The Bell OH-58 single-engine, single-rotor military helicopter for observation, utility, and direct fire support. A militarized version of the Bell 206A JetRanger, the latest version of the OH-58, the OH-58D, has a mast mounted sight above the rotor with visible-light camera, thermal-imaging camera, and laser designator for target acquisition and laser designation in daylight, at night, and in limited visibility.
The OH-58D, known as the Kiowa Warrior, primarily flies armed reconnaissance missions to support soldiers and Marines on the ground. For more information contact Bell Helicopter online at www.bellhelicopter.com, or the Defense Logistics Agency Aviation at www.aviation.dla.mil.