Looking for a Few Good Marines

The Air Force is acquiring three UH-1N Huey helicopters from Marine Corps stocks to replace operational losses in its own Huey fleet, said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, head of Air Force Global Strike Command. With near-term replacement of the Air Force’s Hueys with the provisional Common Vertical Lift Support Platform off the table, the three leatherneck helicopters will replace Huey airframes lost in accidents—one each from AFGSC, Air Education and Training Command, and Air Force District of Washington, Kowalski told reporters on Feb. 24 at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. “We’re watching them as they go through depot to see what shape they’re in,” he explained. Condition and budget permitting, Global Strike Command may consider acquiring additional Marine airframes to buttress its missile field security needs, he said. Hueys at the Air Force’s three ICBM bases recently began standing continuous 24-hour security-response alert, he noted. Given current crew and asset constraints, only one helo—rather than the three required to carry a full security-response team—sits alert at any one time, said Kowalski. To stretch the life of the Huey fleet, “we’ve taken a look at upgrading the cockpits, looking at night-vision compatibility—looking at some safety and other improvements,” he said.