Marines at Robins get $26 million ride

wcrenshaw@macon.comJune 11, 2014 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Wednesday was a big day for the Marine helicopter squadron at Robins.

For the first time since the early 1990s, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron HMLA-773 got a new chopper.

Over two days the UH-1Y Super Huey made its maiden voyage from the Bell Helicopter factory in Amarillo, Texas, to Robins. Excited members of the squadron, known as the Red Dogs, stood outside their hangar near the J-STARS area and watched their new ride come in for a landing.

It was flown from Texas by one of their own and a pilot specifically assigned to fly helicopters from the factory.

Capt. Jared Housand was the Red Dog pilot who helped fly it in from Texas. He has flown the new model before in other units, but he said this helicopter is a big upgrade.

“We were averaging about 150 knots coming across country, and in the old aircraft we would average 100 knots,” he said. “Having flown both in combat, I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that this aircraft is many times over the older model.”

The chopper has greater lift, better engines, a better rotor system and a better capability to provide close air support, Housand said.

The new chopper is just the beginning. The unit is expected to get another one in July and another in August, then a fourth within a couple of years.

The previous UH-1N Hueys the squadron used dated back to the 1970s and were recently retired.

HMLA-773 is the last of the Marine’s eight light attack helicopter squadrons to get the new Hueys. The helicopters cost $26 million each.

The Huey is a utility aircraft that handles troop transport, command and control, medical evacuation and close air support. It works in conjunction with the Super Cobra attack helicopter.

The new Hueys share 84 percent of the same drive system, avionics, software, controls and displays as the AH-1Z Viper attack helicopter that is scheduled to replace the Super Cobra.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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