Ukraine Plans Domestic Production of Bell UH-1

The Ukroboronprom armament company located in Odessa, Ukraine, announced its plans of domestic production of licensed UH-1 helicopters. The Ukrainian Army suffers from a lack of a capable, modern platform. The General Director of Ukroboronprom Yuri Gusev announced that the first aircraft will leave the Odessa Aircraft Plant by the end of August this year, in order to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Ukrainian Independence.

UH-1Y is a versatile platform in service with the USMC. Bell wants to emphasize the sales of its aircraft to other buyers especially in Europe. /
USMC/Lance Cpl. Zachary Ford

Bell Aircraft Corporation is seeking more contracts in Europe. In 2019 12 of Bell’s helicopters were purchased by Czechia for an estimated price of $630,000,000 . The deal included 4 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and 8 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. Similar proposals were delivered to the Polish Ministry of Defense in 2017. It is unknown what type of modifications will be made to the helicopters by the Ukrainian military. Bell offers a military variant of UH-1Y Venom and the civilian Bell 412 helicopter. With the production capacities of Ukroboronprom and the current situation in Ukraine, chances for full domestic production of UH-1Y are rather limited.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces currently use two post-Soviet utility helicopters. The large Mi-8s and small, but outdated, Mi-2s. Bell’s aircraft is smaller than Mi-8 but its exploitation would be much more reasonable in terms of economy and costs of service.

The Ukroboronprom decision on the UH-1 production remains secretive and there is much speculations on the details of the possible cooperation with Bell Aircraft Company. There are many factors at play and it is possible the Ukrainian company may choose production of the Bell 412 instead of UH-1Y Venom, due to costs of manufacture and parts. In addition, the deadline of the end of August 2021 for the first aircraft to leave the
Odessa Aircraft Plant is very ambitious and somewhat unlikely even for just simple assembly in the Ukraine without local parts manufacture.