USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- Marine Medium Helicopter (HMM) Squadron 163 (Reinforced), embarked aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), is among the first squadrons to operate the new Bell UH-1Y "Huey" helicopter, which was tested as part of the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) integration exercise Oct. 7-16.
The most modern tactical utility helicopter available, the Huey is the latest version of one of the Marine Corps' most durable and versatile helicopters, with many improvements on the previous UH-1N.
"This 'Yankee' version of the classic UH-1 'November' is making the Huey applicable to today's war," said Marine Capt. Tara Russell, an HMM 163 (Rein.) "Evil Eyes" pilot. "Everything has been improved, from the lift capability and flying time to situational awareness systems like a glass cockpit with a moving map display."
Boxer is the first ship to have the new helicopter aboard as part of its rotary wing aircraft augmentation for deployment. With a new composite four bladed rotor system, two powerful T700-GE 401C engines and decreased maintenance requirements, it provides BOXESG a more advanced ability to provide humanitarian aid or to take the fight to the enemy wherever needed.
"With the resources to carry both personnel and a full arsenal of weapons we have an expanded capability to support groups on the ground and participate in a greater range of missions," said Marine Capt. Brian Hensarling, an "Evil Eyes" pilot.
Upgraded features also include increased survivability from enemy attack with a laser warning receiver, radar warning receiver, "smart" countermeasure dispenser and a missile warning device.
Improved safety systems include energy-absorbing landing gear, self sealing fuel systems and a fuel vapor inerting system.
"The upgrades that are among the most beneficial for the crew and passengers are the energy attenuating seats that reduce the effects of G-forces in the event of a crash," said Russell. "Before this, the passengers just had to sit on the deck."
The new Huey also features greater operational flexibility due to 50 percent increased range, faster maximum speed, a stronger airframe design, advanced electronic warfare self protection and 125 percent greater payload than the previous UH-1N.
The BOXESG is scheduled for more training exercises this fall prior to a deployment scheduled for early next year.
BOXESG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron 5, the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Boxer, USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USCGC Boutwell (WHEC 719), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, Naval Beach Group 1, Assault Craft Unit 5, Assault Craft Unit 1, Beach Master Unit 1 and Fleet Surgical Team 5.
The 13th MEU is comprised of HMM 163 (Rein.), Combat Logistics Battalion 13 and Battalion Landing Team 1/1.
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.