H-1 Upgrades get nod for LRIP II

Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas was awarded a $104 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract Monday for the second low-rate initial production lot of H-1 Upgrade aircraft.

Work on the four UH-1Y and three AH-1Z aircraft will begin immediately at Fort Worth and the new Bell plant in Amarillo, Texas. The finished aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2007.

"This is a major hurdle to clear in getting to full-rate production," explained Maj. David Thompson, the H-1 program's deputy program manager for Production here. "And it moves us closer to getting this needed capability out to the Fleet Marine Force"

Initially producing limited numbers of aircraft, or LRIP lots, helps new weapons system programs complete development of the manufacturing plan, establishes an initial production base for the system and permits an orderly increase in the production rate of the system using input from operational testing.

"Essentially, we're squashing bugs out of the system," Thompson said. "LRIP is a standard step in the acquisition process that allows us to refine the production line before going to full-rate production."

The H-1 Upgrades program to date has achieved approximately 2,755 flight test hours since Dec. 7, 2000. One of the test AH-1Z?s recently flew to Yuma, AZ where it is currently testing weapons accuracy. The H-1 program is currently scheduled to begin its final operational evaluation later this year.

Currently, the first LRIP lot of six UH-1Y and three AH-1Z aircraft are in production at Amarillo. By 2014, the Marine Corps will have procured 100 UH-1Y Hueys and 180 AH-1Z Super Cobras.

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