An engineering team here recently redesigned and tested a UH-1Y helicopter weapons mount which will provide extended ground-firing capabilities to Marines in Afghanistan.
In response to a Marine Corps Urgent Universal Needs Statement, the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Program Office (PMA-242) Crew Served Weapons Integration team redesigned the UH-1Y’s weapons mount, which is used to secure crew-served weapons to the aircraft.
“Our first concern is for the safety and well-being of our Sailors and Marines,” said Capt. Brian Corey, PMA-242 program manager. “The redesigned mount allows them to continue Operation Enduring Freedom with weapons that can protect them in a wider range of situations with an increased field of fire. They can now defend against enemy fire while in the air and more successfully while on the ground.”
While the redesign’s original intent was only for the GAU-17 mini gun, PMA-242 expanded the request to include the GAU-21 and M240 machine guns since the UH-1Y helicopter can carry any combination of two GAU-17, GAU-21 or M240 weapons. The new mount brings the UH-1Y increased capability that puts its field of fire on par with other aircraft, such as the legacy UH-1N helicopter, Corey said. Field of fire refers to the range, elevation and azimuthof a weapon when firing.
“Modifications to the mount ensure that each weapon’s field of fire is increased as much as possible while also ensuring that no part of the aircraft can inadvertently be shot,” said Marine Capt. Scott Roland, deputy program manager for PMA-242 aircraft gun systems.
During the tests in May, engineers evaluated the redesign of the top bushing of the Defensive Armament System, which holds the weapon-specific mount and the weapon-specific mount stops. The component was redesigned to elevate upward enough to fire weapons farther while the aircraft is on the ground.
“The team of engineers used in-flight data, physical fit checks and computer-design software to ensure that all clearance requirements were met,” Roland said.
Testing will continue at Pax River for approximately six more months to validate the new design’s functionality. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) in Afghanistan will be the first squadron to receive the redesigned UH-1Y mount later this year.