An Annapolis aircraft manufacturer has signed an agreement with a division of General Electric to jointly refurbish Vietnam War-era helicopters for foreign governments.
UNC Inc., which has administrative offices on Admiral Cochrane Drive and 33 plants in 17 states, designed a modified UH-1 "Ultra-Huey," the single-engine gunship and personnel carrier used in the Vietnam War.
GE Aircraft Engines is to manufacture T-700 turboshaft engines that reduce operation and maintenance costs for the craft.
The new engines will enable the helicopter to fly at higher altitudes and in hotter temperatures while consuming less fuel than the older versions, said Ron Kiripolsky, vice president of corporate development for UNC.
More than 5,000 of the helicopters are now used by the U.S. Army, the Army National Guard and foreign military services. Over the next several years, the Army is expected to retire its UH-1s.
The team expects to put new engines on some of the more than 2,000 UH-1 helicopters in the inventory of foreign governments such as Taiwan, Mr. Kiripolsky said, and has begun talks with several nations and the National Guard, which has 1,100 Huey helicopters now in service.
UNC tested the first T700-powered UH-1 in August at the UNC Helicopter plant in Ozark, Ala., where the company is running flight tests.
UNC Helicopter, a division of UNC Inc., is currently the prime contractor on an unrelated five-year Army program to overhaul 250 UH-1s for foreign military sales.
Besides manufacturing and overhauling jet engines and aircraft components and accessories, UNC maintains aircraft and trains pilots. The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.