South American success
The Huey in the armed forces of Latin America
The Bell UH-1 has served all across Latin America, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina, for almost 50 years. Most of the countries that have used or still use the Huey have operated them in a wide variety of roles, from humanitarian relief and Antarctic research support to the whole range of militar y operations as well as many other civil and industrial activities.
The Bell Huey is one of the most widely used helicopters acquired by the armed forces of Latin America. The type has seen active service in many national antiguerrilla and counter insurgency operations, not to mention the Falklands War of 1982 between Argentina and the UK, where it was used in many military roles. Both Argentina and Chile have used Hueys on support missions in Antarctica, while every country’s aircraft have also seen use on humanitarian missions in the aftermath of disasters such as floods and earthquakes. The first time the helicopter was deployed operationally outside the US was to Latin America. A massive earthquake struck southern Chile on May 21 and 22, 1960, killing or injuring many people and cutting them off from medical assistance. The US Government reacted by sending 10 Bell HU-1AS of the 57th Medical Detachment to help, along with transport aircraft to support the helicopters and move vital supplies into the affected area. These 10 HU-1AS flew the first active evacuation and support missions for what was then a brand new type of helicopter, working alongside Sikorsky S.55s from Argentina and Chile. Only three years later, the forces of Columbia and Venezuela were to become the first Latin American operators of the Huey when they received their first UH-1BS, followed after two more years by the Peruvian Air Force which acquired the larger UH-1D. Today, several Huey operators are replacing them with other types, but many are upgrading their aircraft to the current Huey II model, so the helicopter will be in service in Latin America for many more years.
Fuerza Aérea Argentina The Argentine Air Force purchased six UH-1DS in 1966 with the serial numbers H-10 to H-15. The first arrived one year later and started to serve with the Grupo 1 de Contrainsurgencia (COIN) of the I Brigada Aérea at El Palomar Air Base, later named Grupo 1 de Ataque and from 1969 based in the VII Brigada Aérea at Morón, Buenos Aires (until the unit moved to Moreno Air Base in the late Eighties). Ultimately, only one of the order for UH1Ds was delivered, the others were UH-1H models, the first later being upgraded to H standard. They were usually armed with Browning 1919A1 7.62mm machine guns as well as either the six tube Mamboretá ARM 675A 57mm rocket launcher or the seven tube M-157C 70mm rocket launcher. Four of them were lost in accidents, leaving only H-10 and 14, so seven new helicopters were purchased and started to arrive from May 1998 onwards, receiving serials H-9, H-11 and H-15 to 19. They were used for the next eight years, until they were retired in 2006 and four of the airframes were transferred to the Argentine Army for use as spare part donors.
Dirección de Aviación de Ejército The first UH-1HS for the Argentine Army arrived in 1969, were given the serial numbers AE-400 and 401 then delivered to the Sección Helicópteros del Batallón de Aviación de Ejército 601 at Campo de Mayo Airfield in Buenos Aires in January 1970. They were joined by another two in 1971 and by 10 more in 1973, the new aircraft being given sequential serial numbers up to AE-413. Also in that year a single Bell 205A-1 civilian
model of the helicopter was purchased, to be operated by the Army but on behalf of the Dirección Nacional de Emergencias Sociales (DINES) of the Social Well-being Ministry. This aircraft was initially given the serial AE-450 but was later changed to the civil registration LQ-LGT when the helicopter was handed over to DINES and ceased any Army operations, finally being re-registered LV-LGT. The capabilities of the new helicopters led to a new unit, the Batallón de Aviación Aeromóvil 601, being created, this being renamed the Batallón de Aviación de Combate 601 in 1975. The Hueys were equipped with the locally built Pato 70mm rocket launcher and MAG machine guns. Also during 1975, another five new helicopters arrived, given the serials AE-414 to 418. From 1974 the Hueys had been widely used in combat in the Tucuman province, fighting against the communist guerrillas of the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), the first missions taking place in August of that year. Two Hueys were to be lost in this region, the first on October 10, 1975, when AE-412 was shot down by the guerrillas during the fighting at Acheral. The second was on May 5, 1976, when AE-411 was lost in an accident in the area when it crashed into a mountain. The army fleet expanded still further with the arrival of another four UH-1HS on December 6, 1976, followed by another two in 1978 which were given the serials AE-423 and 424. Also in 1978, six more of the civilian transport Bell 205A-1 versions of the helicopter were purchased and given the serials AE-425 to 430. One of these, AE-430, was lost in an accident on May 6, 1979, as was AE-425 in December of that year. The new aircraft allowed an expansion in the army’s aviation units, with the first Aviation Section being created at Comodoro Rivadavia in Chubut in 1980, its first aircraft being AE-403. When the war with the UK for the Falkland Islands began in April 1982, the army’s UH1Hs were deployed to both Patagonia and the islands, including the DINES Bell 205, LQLGT. Nine helicopters were actually sent to the islands, despite the fact the plan was to send 16. The nine were widely used on transport, medical evacuation and air assault missions during the war. Another 11 UH-1HS, along with LQ-LGT, were deployed but remained in Patagonia. During a reconnaissance mission on April 30, one of the deployed aircraft, AE-419, was lost near the town of Caleta Olivia with the loss of all 14 personnel aboard. On May 28, AE-412, 413, 417, 418, 422 and 424, together with an air force Chinook, a Puma and two Agusta A-109s, carried out an air assault during the battle for Goose Green, delivering an entire army company to support the forces defending the settlement. On the following day, two of the Hueys also deployed 17 members of the elite Commando Company 602 to Top Malo House. Having dropped off the troops, the helicopters came under fire from British forward observation units but managed to escape undamaged.
Eight of the UH-1HS, AE-406, 409, 410, 412, 413, 417, 422 and 424, were captured, while AE-418 was damaged beyond repair by the artillery. Five of them were taken to the UK while AE-410 was preserved on the islands. The long-lived AE-424, after changing hands many times, is currently with the Papua New Guinea Defense Force. The helicopters deployed to Patagonia returned to their base on June 22, 1982. After the conflict, the army began a reorganization of its helicopter forces. In 1983, two Hueys were sent to Rio Gallegos to open an aviation section there, followed, in 1985, by four being supplied to the Escuadrón de Aviación de Exploración y Ataque 602 for use on attack missions. In 1988, AE-423 was lost and in 1993 AE416, but in that year six extra helicopters were ordered to make good the losses, these being second-hand airframes serialled AE-431 to 436. In 1996 two Hueys were sent to Posadas Misiones to open the Sección de Aviación de Monte 12. These were followed by two which were sent to the Sección de Aviación 3 at Curuzú Cuatiá and one to the Sección de Aviación de Ejército 2 at Paraná. The aircraft was proving extremely useful, so 10 extra helicopters arrived in 1998, serialled AE-437 to 446, followed by five more in 2000, two of which were sent to the Sección de Aviación de Montaña 6 at Neuquén. Also in 2000, the Grupo de Helicópteros de Asalto 601 was transformed into the Batallón de Helicópteros de Asalto 601, the Army’s Huey fleet being expanded by another four aircraft in 2001, AE-454 to 458. Accidental losses continued, with AE-435 being lost in 2002. Since 2004, the fleet has been upgraded to the Huey II standard, with the first being delivered in 2005. The modernized helicopters started to receive serial numbers from AE-460 onwards and, interestingly, AE-464 is actually the original company Huey II demonstrator, delivered to the army by Bell. Meanwhile, the remaining civilian Bell 205 models in the fleet were replaced in 2007 with four UH-1HS, AE459 and 490 to 492. The Bell 205 LV-LGT was operated by DINES from the late 1970s until the early 2000s, but is currently grounded. One of the Huey IIS, AE-462, formerly AE455 before the upgrade, was lost in an accident in 2007 and AE-404 was lost in 2009. In 2008, four UH-1HS were transferred from the navy, three of these being pressed into service as AE-493 to 495 to make good the losses and bring the army Huey fleet back to full strength.
Comando de Aviación Naval The Argentine Naval Aviation received eight UH-1HS beginning in 1999, equipping the 3º Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Helicópteros of the 3º Escuadra Aeronaval. One of the aircraft was destroyed while being unloaded from the ship, the batch having been given the serial numbers 0873 to 0880. Two of the aircraft were lost in accidents, 0874 in 2003 and 0880 in 2007, the remaining five being retired in 2008, and as already mentioned, four of these being transferred to the army. Gendarmería Nacional The Argentine National Gendarmerie received four UH-1HS in 2014, the plan being to upgrade these aircraft to Huey II standard with a view to beginning police support operations during 2015.
Fuerza Aérea Boliviana In 1975 the Bolivian Air Force received its first six UH-1HS, serialled 720 to 725, followed in 1986 by a further six, 700 to 705. These were delivered by the United States for operations with the ‘Diablos Rojos’ Air Task Force of Grupo 51 of the III Brigade based at Cochabamba Air Base. The unit later moved to Santa Cruz de la Sierra Air Base and was a specialized force for operations against drug traffickers. Between 1988 and 1991 another 14 were delivered by the US Department of State Air Wing and
given the serials 706 to 719. In 1996 742 and 743 arrived from the US and were followed during the 2000s by another seven, 744, 745, 748, 749, 750, 756 and 757, two of which were outfitted for VIP transport operations. So far, eight of the fleet have been fully upgraded to the Huey II standard, and the plan is to modify a total of 15 to this level of 20 actually still in service. The other 15 airframes delivered have either been lost in accidents, used for spares or preserved. At least one was severely damaged by ground fire on an operation against drug traffickers. In March 2009 Brazil announced it would donate four of its helicopters to the Bolivian force, these being received in 2012.
Força Aérea Brasileira The Força Aérea Brasileira received six UH1Ds in 1967, specifically equipped for Search And Rescue (SAR) missions. In service they were designated SH-1DS and named ‘Sapao’ (big toad, a play on frontal appearance of the Huey), these first six being followed by eight UH-1DS, most of which were later modified to SH-1H standard. From 1972 onwards a total of 26 UH-1HS were acquired, the fleet being further expanded in 1982 with the arrival of five AB-205A-1S and three Bell 205A-1s purchased from Israel. Initially they equipped the 2º/10º Grupo de Aviação (GAV) at Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, the 5º/8º GAV at Santa María, Río Grande do Sul and the 7º/8º GAV at Manaus. Later they were to also be used by the 1º/8º GAV at Manaus, the 2º/8º GAV of Recife, the 3º/8º GAV of Campo dos Afonsos and the 1º/11º GAV at São Paulo. Those last four units were used to provide air support to the army, until army aviation was reformed in 1997. In this support role the helicopters were armed with machine guns and rockets. Between 1996 and 1997, another 19 UH1Hs were acquired second-hand from the United States. Today, there are believed to be about 36 Hueys of all variants in service, but they are steadily being replaced by the new Eurocopter Super Cougar. In 2012, four surplus aircraft were donated to Bolivia and others were delivered to several of Brazil’s police forces.
Police forces The Coordenadoria de Recursos Especiais (The Special Resources Coordinator or CORE) of the Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro received one Huey II in December 2008, registered PR-FEC, to carry out operations in support of police forces combating the drug traffickers in the slums of the city. For this role it was equipped with armoured plates on the sides of the cabin to provide protection for the crew when they fly with the doors opened. The aircraft is often flown this way, particularly on harassment missions with snipers in the cabin. This aircraft has seen a lot of action since it entered service, its success leading to another five Huey IIS being supplied to other Brazilian police forces for the same mission.
Fuerza Aérea de Chile The Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile or FACH) received 12 UH-1HS from 1967, given the serials H-80 to H-91, initially to equip the Grupo de Aviación Nº 10, but in 1971 they were transferred to Grupo de Aviación Nº 3. In 1978 they received the two remaining examples from the Chilean Army, H-80, to replace the original aircraft with that serial which had been lost, and H-92. Between 1991 and 1992, six FACH UH-1HS were sent to Kuwait after a request for assistance from the United Nations. In March 1993 they were all transferred to Grupo Nº 9, along with 10 more helicopters received from the US Army, given serials H-74 to 79 and H-93 to 96. Grupo Nº 9 had one very
distinctive aircraft painted red for Antarctic operations. In August 1996, five FACH UH-1HS were again sent to the border between Iraq and Kuwait to fly missions for the United Nations. However, because of the growing tensions with Iraq in November 1998, the Chilean Air Force personnel had to withdraw in a hurry, leaving behind the five helicopters which were captured by the Iraqis. In 2000, the UH1H fleet was the subject of a gradual replacement programme. Two Bell 412s were purchased, H-41 and 42, followed by two more, H-43 and 44, the following year. A fifth, H-45, was acquired some time later, all of which went to equip Grupos 6 and 8. Despite the arrival of the newer aircraft, the remaining UH-1HS continued in service, in fact five more were received in 2003, most of these being used for spares. In 2004, four FACH UH-1HS were sent to Haiti to participate in the UN peacekeeping force on the island. In 2007, two more UH-1HS were received, meaning that today there are still 15 UH-1HS in service. The FAC UH-1HS are able to carry a wide variety of rockets and machine guns and some have been fitted and tested with Forward Looking Infra Red sensors and other specialist mission equipment.
Ejército de Chile In 1969, the Chilean Army received five UH1Hs with the serials 181 to 185. These were donated by the United States for use by the recently created Army Aviation Command (Comando de Aviación de Ejército). Three were lost in accidents and the remaining two were transferred to the air force in 1978.
Fuerza Aérea Colombiana In 1963, the Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Colombiana or FAC) received 10 Bell UH-1BS, serialled FAC270 to 279, which was later changed to 4272 to 4279. These were to equip the Grupo Aéreo de Helicópteros, which would later be known as the Grupo Aéreo de Combate 41 de Alas Rotativas, stationed at Base Aérea Capitán Luis F. Pinto at Melgar. One of these aircraft, FAC279, was to be used as the official presidential transport until 1972. Three of the first batch of UH-1BS were lost in accidents, two are preserved and two remain in storage, the last flight of the type in FAC service being made in 1994. The B model helicopters were followed in 1969 by 20 UH-1HS, serialled 281 to 299, which were joined in 1972 by 20 Bell 205As, FAC220 to 239. While these were the civilian model of the helicopter, they were armed to fulfil attack missions and were so successful that in 1982 another 20 examples, serialled FAC401 to 420, were acquired. In 1984 the serial number system was revised, the prefix 4 being added to all aircraft, some of which received completely new numbers. For example, FAC 281 became FAC4281, but FAC225 became FAC4282. From their first arrival in Columbia, the Hueys were engaged in combat operations against the communist guerrilla forces which were very active in the country, especially the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) and the Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN), the latter created in 1964. In the early 1970s, these guerrilla forces were joined by a new and more sinister enemy, the drug cartels, and antidrug trafficking operations were added to the missions of the helicopter units. The Huey was extremely successful in Columbian service, so much so that in 1997 a plan was started to convert eight examples to Huey II standard, the initial aim being to convert 42 helicopters to the new equipment level. However, as it turned out, only the initial batch was modified with a few more being upgraded later. Instead of the upgraded aircraft, the fleet continued to expand, 17 UH- 1Hs, FAC4501 to 4517, and a single UH-1V, FAC4500, being acquired in 2002. To date, the last batch of helicopters acquired arrived in 2008, comprising 12 of the upgraded Huey IIS, serialled FAC4520 to 4531. A total of 27 UH-1HS were lost in accidents or shot down by enemy action on operations, two are preserved as monuments at Melgar, one at Río Negro and another at Cali. Most of the UH-1HS that were not upgraded to Huey II standard are now in storage, waiting for the decision to convert them to Huey IIS, so only six remain in service, together with a total of 21 Huey IIS. Today, the UH-1H and Huey II are in service with Escuadrones de Combate 411, 412 and 415 and the Escuadrón de Entrenamiento 413, all part of Grupo Aéreo de Combate 41. They are also used by Escuadrón de Combate 612 of Grupo Aéreo de Combate 61; the Escuadrón de Combate Aerotáctico 113 of Grupo Aéreo de Combate 11; and finally the Escuadrón de Combate Aerotáctico 313 of Grupo Aéreo de Combate 31.
Ejército de Colombia The Columbian Army’s use of the Huey began in 2000 when the US Department of State delivered 33 Bell UH-1HS, EJC400 to 432, all of which had been upgraded to Huey II standard, for use against drug traffickers and communist guerrillas. Three of these aircraft were lost in accidents leaving the current fleet of 30, all of which equip the Batallón de Aviación Nº 5 at Tolemaida in Cundinamarca state. These aircraft are still regularly used in their intended combat role.
Policía Nacional de Colombia. From 1989, 12 UH-1HS were supplied to the National Police, a fleet that would grow to a total of 58 Hueys over the following years, given the sequential serials of PNC126 to 179 as they entered service. Often employed in counter-insurgency and anti-drug trafficking missions, 12 of these helicopters were lost in accidents or to enemy action. One of the early aircraft received, PNC128, is preserved at the Police Museum in Bogotá. In 1997, a contract was signed to modernize four UH-1HS to the Huey II standard, as with the air force, the idea being to upgrade the whole fleet over the next few years. Eventually, five UH-1HS were upgraded to Huey IIS at the PNC workshops at Guaymaral in Cundinamarca state, as were seven more by US Helicopters in the United States, and the remaining fleet was retired. Alongside this upgrade programme, from 1999 a total of 24 Huey IIS were received, donated by the United States as part of the Plan Colombia to assist in the police action against drug traffickers. The 12 upgraded examples received new serials and, together with the 24 new airframes, became PNC 0700 to 0735. Such was the pace and ferocity of the operations these aircraft were engaged in that 11 of them were to be lost. To replace these losses, another five Huey IIS arrived from the US, leaving the current fleet with 30 helicopters. Almost all of the Hueys operate from Guaymaral Airport near Bogotá, but they are regularly deployed across the whole country.
Guardia Nacional de Costa Rica At the end of the 1980s, two UH-1BS were supplied to the Costa Rican National Guard by the government of Panamá. These were both former US Army aircraft, the first being FAP103 in Panamanian service, formerly 60-3567, the second being FAP-111, formerly 62-1906. They were both given civilian registrations, TI-SPO and TI-SPP respectively, serving only briefly in Costa Rica before retiring prior to 1992. The first aircraft was sold to a private owner in the US and re-registered as N846MC but was lost in an accident in 1996. The other had an interesting career, being operated by civil owners in the United States and Argentina, where it was registered LVWED before being sold to the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya as H-005.
Fuerza Aérea Dominicana In 1976 the Dominican Air Force received the first of eight Bell 205A-1s, FAD 3018, 3019 and 3023 to 3028, to equip the Escuadrón de Rescate ‘Águilas’. They were followed by six UH-1HS, FAD 3030 to 3035, which were donated by the US government in 1998. The surviving seven Bell 205As were sold in 1999, while the two remaining UH-1HS were joined in 2004 by eight Huey IIS, also donated by the US government. These were given the serials FAD 3062 to 3069, and are still in service with the same unit today.
Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña The Fuerza Aérea Salvadoreña began to receive the UH-1H when the USA donated 20 examples in 1981, serialled FAS 240 to 259. These were intended to support the army on operations against the guerrillas of the Frente Martí de Liberación Nacional. They were followed by another eight in 1982, FAS 260 to 267, six in 1983, 268 to 272, 19 in 1984, 273 to 291, 13 in 1985, 292 to 299 and 201 to 205, seven in 1987, 206 to 212, and finally eight in 1988, given the serials 213 to 221. All 82 of these Hueys were to equip the Grupo de Helicópteros. Of these, seven were destroyed during a guerrilla attack at Ilopango Air Base on January 27, 1982, and another 37 were to be lost in combat or accidents. Two of the UH-1HS have been preserved and most of the others have since been retired from service. Many were armed with machine guns and rockets, several being equipped to carry either 125 or 250kg bombs for strikes against the guerrillas. Meanwhile, in 1985, the first UH-1MS began to arrive, armed with M-19 grenade launchers, 7.62mm miniguns and 70mm rocket launchers. Initially 12 were received, serialled FAS 228 to 239, followed by two in 1986, FAS 226 and 227, three in 1988, FAS 222 to 224, another in 1989, FAS 225, and six in 1991, FAS 320 to 325. Six were lost in accidents or were shot down on operations and today only FAS 225, 228, 324 and 325 remain with the force, but they only fly occasionally with the Grupo de Helicópteros. The Hueys have been partly replaced by the ultimate development of the type, the Bell 412.
Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca Between 1970 and 1976 the Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca purchased 10 UH-1HS, but shortly after that the United States imposed an arms embargo and only six were delivered, given the serials FAG 110, 111, 116, 130, 140 and 150. They were widely used by the Escuadrón de Helicópteros from Base Aérea La Aurora against the communist guerrillas from the time they entered service, two being lost during a mortar attack at Los Cipresales. The lack of spares led to only two remaining serviceable by 1980, at which time the embargo was lifted and six more UH-1HS were received with serials FAG 113, 160, 170, 180 and 190. FAG 160 was lost in 1981 and replaced by another with the same serial. They were equipped with US LAU-61 and 68 and the Argentine Mamboretá 70mm rocket launchers. Four UH-1HS were upgraded to Huey II standard in 2008. By 1999 there were three of the original UH-1HS in service, which were supplemented in 2010 by one more; captured from drug traffickers which was pressed into service with the serial FAG 120.
National Police The US Department of State delivered five Huey IIS to the Guatemalan Police for operations against drug traffickers, these being given the serials 21746, 21753, 22387, 22392 and 22534.
Police Nationale d’haiti In 2003 the Haitian government purchased a single Bell UH-1H with the registration N126PT. This was formerly 65-10096, c/n 5140, for use by the Police Nationale d’haiti on coast guard missions. The helicopter was still on charge but appeared non operational by early 2010. The police also have an unidentified helicopter, a Bell 204 or UH-1B or C model, on strength.
Fuerza Aérea Hondureña The Escuadrón de Helicópteros at Base Aérea Coronel Hermán Acosta Mejia at Toncontín, Tegucigalpa, received three UH-1BS in 1976, given the serials FAH901 to 903. These were followed by another two in 1978, 904 and 905, and then another 15, 920 to 934, which were in service until 2001. From 1982 onwards, 10 UH-1HS, FAH940 to 949, were also received, of which five have been lost in accidents.
Jamaican Defence Force Named ‘Scorpion’, the No 2 Flight of the Jamaican Defence Force received four UH1Hs, H-19 to 22, in January 1989. These aircraft were leased from the US government, only one being lost during their 12 years of service, with the three survivors flying until 1998 before being officially retired in 2001.
Fuerza Aérea Mexicana In March 1967 the Mexican Presidency received a sole Bell UH-1D, serialled HP-01, for use as a VIP transport. In 1971 it was replaced by two of the twin engined Bell 212. Later, in March 1973, the first of five Bell 205A1s were purchased to equipped the Escuadrón Aéreo 209 BRE (Búsqueda, Rescate y Evacuación) based at Base Aérea Militar 1 (BAM 1) at Santa Lucia, México State. These rescue and evacuation helicopters were given the serials HBR-1151 to 1155. Three were lost in accidents so by 1993 only one remained in service, based at the Centro de Entrenamiento de Helicópteros at BAM 5 in Zapopan, Jalisco. This was flown until 2000, when it was retired from service. Later, in 1996, the USA donated 73 UH-1HS which were given the serials 1501 to 1573. These were to serve with the Escuela de Aviación Militar and the Escuadrones Aéreos 105, 106, 108, 109 and 110. One helicopter was lost in an accident in 1997, the others being returned to the US in 1999 because they were stored airframes that had been delivered in very poor condition.
Armada de México During the 1980s, the Mexican Navy operated two Bell 205A-1s, serialled HMR-140 and 141, but these were to remain in service for only a short time.
Fuerza Aérea Sandinista and La Contra The Fuerza Aérea Sandinista received a single AB-205 from Libya in 1982, serialled 260, which was in service until shortly after the arrival of Soviet-made helicopters around 1986. The only other use of the Huey in the country took place during the civil war between 1981 and 1990. The Contras guerrilla group, controversially backed by the US, acquired one UH-1B, purchased through a civil operator, given the US civil registration N80WF and used for medical evacuation missions.
Servicio Aéreo Nacional In 1970 the Fuerza Aérea Panameña (FAP, later renamed the Servicio Aéreo Nacional or SAN) received three UH-1HS, given the serials FAP-104, 110 and 115, and six Bell 205A-1s, serialled 102, 103 and 107 to 109. In 1976 these were supplemented by the arrival of 10 Bell UH-1BS with the serials 102, 103, 111 to 114, 116 and 117. These were used by the Escuadrón de Ala Rotatoria at Tocumen, the last two of them being given civil registrations. In 1997 they received five Aidc-built UH-1HS, donated by Taiwan and given the serials SAN-123 to 127. Later still, five UH-1HS and one UH-1V were acquired from the US with the serials SAN-129 to 134, but five of these were later returned. Today there are four UH-1HS and six Bell 205s in service. The UH-1BS were retired in 1997, two of which, 103 and 111, were delivered to Costa Rica.
Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya In 1982 the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya received two UH-1BS, H-023 and 024, which were the original equipment of the Grupo Aéreo de Helicópteros at Base Aérea Militar Nhu Guazú in Campo Grande, when this unit was created in 1988. Both of these helicopters were sold in 1992 to civil operators in Chile. Paraguay also received two Aidc-built UH1Hs, H-29 and 30, donated by Taiwan in 1996, followed by the United States government which donated three Bell UH-1BS purchased from the Argentine company Servicios Especiales S.A. These five helicopters were supplied for operations against drug traffickers, with the Dirección de Narcóticos (DINAR), all of which are now retired. Two extra UH-1HS were donated by Taiwan in 2000, two more in 2001 and another pair in 2002. UH-1H H-30 was lost in 1998, at which time the remaining aircraft was re-serialled, H29 becoming H-429, the new machines being given serials H-431 to 436. Two more UH-1HS were to be supplied by Taiwan, 437 arriving in 2006 and 438 in 2007. H-437 was to be lost in October 2010, the remainder of the fleet are still in service and operate equipped with machine guns and rockets.
Marina del Perú In 1972 the Marina del Perú received six UH1Hs, followed by a single Bell 205A-1 serialled HC-410. These did not remain in service long and all were sold shortly after acquisition.
Fuerza Aérea del Perú In 1965 the Fuerza Aérea del Perú received 12 Bell UH-1DS, FAP623, 625 to 632 and 644 to 646, these being followed by a single UH-1H, FAP 685. These formed the equipment of Escuadrón de Helicópteros 332, all of which were retired from service some years later.
Policía Nacional del Perú The Policía Nacional del Perú started to receive 12 UH-1HS from the US Department of State in 1989. These were to equip Squadrons 21 and 22 and were to provide air support for the Police and DEA forces involved in the war against drug traffickers. The serials were scrambled from PNP-303 to 327 which effectively disguised their numbers. One more aircraft was given the serial PNP-110, but this was lost in an accident on June 20, 1992. These first 12 UH-1HS were followed by four more in 1996 and another two in 2002. The force was augmented with the arrival of eight of the upgraded Huey IIS in 2004, seven more in 2005, four in 2006 and a final batch of eight in 2007. At least three of these have been lost in accidents while four more were withdrawn from service for unknown causes.
Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya The Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya received three Bell UH-1HS in 1971 to equip the Grupo Aéreo No 5 de Búsqueda y Rescate, based at Carrasco, Montevideo, these aircraft being given the serials 050 to 052. Five years later, on August 25, 1976, six Bell UH-1BS were acquired, equipped for use as gunships and given the serials 060 to 065. These were to be long-lived aircraft, the last not being retired until November 22, 1990. Five more UH-1HS were donated by the US Government on June 29, 1998, three of which entered service as 053 to 055, the remaining two being used as spares donors. The most recent additions to the fleet occurred in 2009, when four more UH-1HS, 057 to 059, were donated by Spain.
Fuerza Aérea Venezolana In 1963 the Fuerza Aérea Venezolana received four Bell UH-1BS, serials 0927, 8519, 0937 and 0947, making the air force the first Latin American operator of the Huey. In 1969, 15 UH-1DS were added to the fleet, including 0614, 0626, 0628, 0640, 0897, 1567, 1681 and 4134. Three of these aircraft were lost in accidents, while the others were upgraded to UH-1H standard. From 1972 they served with Escuadrón 101 of the Grupo Aéreo de Operaciones Especiales Nº 10. In 1974, nine ex-us Army UH-1HS were acquired, including serial numbers 1678, 1686, 1860, 1930, 2117, 2230 and 9479. From these additional aircraft, 1686 and 1860 were lost in accidents in 1998 and 1971 respectively. The final UH-1B was retired in 2005, while the last UH-1D/HS remained in service until 2008. They were replaced by Eurocopter Super Pumas and Cougars. Aviación del Ejército Venezolano Aviación del Ejército Venezolano (Venezuelan Army Aviation) received six UH-1HS, serialled EV-77094 to 7709, followed by three Bell 205A1s, EV-8016 to 8018, all during 1977. These were to equip the Batallón de Helicópteros at Campo Aéreo del Ejército at San Felipe and were to remain in service until 1999, after which they were replaced by 10 of the advanced twin-engined Bell 412EPS.
The FAU 059 was the last UH-1H to enter service with the Uruguayan Air Force, being a former Spanish Army example.
A rare picture of one of the 10 HU-1AS sent by the US Army to take part in the relief operations in Chile in 1960. It was the first operational overseas deployment of the Huey in its history.they operated alongside Argentine and Chilean Sikorsky S-55s.
One of the Argentine Army UH-1HS deployed to the Malvinas or Falkland Islands during 1982.The Huey proved extremely reliable and none of them were shot down during the war. All nine deployed to the islands were captured, but one was damaged beyond repair by artillery fire. An Argentine Army UH-1H on combat operations in Tucumán province in 1974 against communist guerrillas in the area. Two Hueys were lost in the operations, one to enemy fire and the other in an accident. They performed air assault, close air support, medical evacuation and transport missions.
AE-405 was one of the first Argentine Army UH1Hs used on air attack missions. Here it’s seen armed with two locally developed Martin Pescador air-to-ground missiles, tested on the aircraft but not used operationally. Also shown are two CITEFA launchers for Pampero 105mm rockets and the Gallo and Harry launchers for 70mm Albatros rockets.
One of the first Argentine Air Force UH-1H fitted with floats.these were briefly used in the early 1970s.
Left: First flight of an Argentine Army Huey II with rocket launchers in 2010, fitted with two Harry launchers for Albatros rockets.
An Argentine Army UH-1H armed with MAG machine gun pods and two Microbio rocket launchers for Pampero rockets. The Bell 205A-1 used for relief operations during a flood in Chaco province in Argentina in the 1970s, where it operated from water and mud. An Argentine Navy UH-1H during an exercise at Baterías Firing Range, near Puerto Belgrano Naval Base, in November 2004. The UH-1HS of the Argentine Army used by the Posadas Aviation Section received a special camouflage pattern as seen here.
Night shot of an Argentine Army UH-1H with weapons. LV-LGT as it appears today, being offered for sale after some time out of service.
Argentine Air Force UH-1H in 2000 with the current paint scheme used by this model with the force.
Argentine Bell 205A-1, LV-LGT, of the Dirección Nacional de Emergencias Sociales (DINES) in 1997.
A Bolivian Air Force UH-1H, used by the Diablos Rojos Task Force on antidrug operations from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Two of the four UH-1HS donated by the Brazilian Air Force to the Bolivian Air Force in 2013.
A Huey II of the Rio de Janeiro State Military Police, used to carry snipers to protect ground forces when they operate in the dangerous slums of Rio de Janeiro.the helicopter was equipped with armour plates in the rear cabin to protect the gunners.
A Brazilian Air Force UH-1H, FAB 8671, of the 4º EMRA unit at Cumbica Air Base, Sao Paulo, in 1978.The helicopter is armed with a MAG pod on the forward mounting and a rocket launcher on a pylon that also supports another MAG machine gun.this second gun can be fixed firing forward or used by the door gunner. Both systems were locally developed by Avibrás.
A Brazilian Air Force SH-1D locally named Pelicano, used for SAR missions in the early Seventies, seen here at Natal Air Base in September 1976.
Brazilian Air Force UH-1H seen in the mid1980s at the Amazon Region carrying large boats in its cabin.
On February 1, 1974, a huge fire erupted in a building named Joelma located in São Paulo. One air force Huey attended the emergency and rescued many survivors from the roof before other civil helicopters arrived, as the firemen’s ladders were not long enough to reach the higher floors.the air force Huey, thanks to its power, was the only helicopter able to hover over the hot air of the fire, while others, a Bell 206 and Hiller FH-1100, could not.they rescued many people trapped on the roof, but tragically 191 people died in the fire.two years before, another building was consumed by flames in Sao Paulo, the Andraus building, causing 16 deaths. A civil Bell 204, PP-ENC, commanded by Olendino Souza, rescued 307 people on 32 trips to the top of the building, from a total of about 400 rescued by all the helicopters.
A Chilean Air Force UH-1H of the Grupo 9, based at Santiago de Chile.
A Chilean Air Force UH-1H.
A rare picture of a Chilean Army UH-1H.THE force used them for a short period, before transferring them to the air force. The Chilean Air Force deployed its Hueys on behalf of the UN, currently in Haiti, but previously in Iraq.
The Chilean Air Force uses its Hueys on transport missions. In the past they were used with rocket launchers and machine guns in support of army operations, but since the army now has its own armed helicopters, the use of weapons on the Hueys was discontinued.
A Colombian Air Force Huey II armed with an M60 machine gun and equipped with a LRAD 1000 very long range acoustic device.this sends what are known as demobilization messages as the high frequency noise has the capacity to stress enemy troops after long periods hearing them. It can be used from up to 5000ft (1500m) altitude.
Colombian Police Huey II over the north of Bogotá during a test flight. The Colombian Police Aviation Division is the biggest and most powerful police aviation force in the world.their Hueys, CH-135S, Bell 212s and Blackhawks are armed with M60s, GAU-17 and 19 Miniguns to fight against drug traffickers and guerrillas.
FAC 277, one of the early Colombian Air Force UH-1BS.THE country, together with Venezuela, were the first two operators of the Huey in Latin America, Colombia receiving 10 UH-1B in 1963 and Venezuela four.
Colombian Army Huey IIS at Tolemaida Army Aviation Base.they are mainly used to support the Blackhawks on assault missions.the Huey IIS and the Bell CH-135 are fitted with GAU-19 Miniguns and other weapons for use against the guerrillas.
A Salvadoran Air Force UH-1H during humanitarian relief operations to the east of San Salvador after the earthquakes of January and February 2001. El Salvador was one of the biggest Huey operators in Latin America, with a huge quantity of UH-1HS and Ms in service from 1981 onwards.the Huey has been partially replaced by the Bell 412. One of the last UH-1MS in service with the Salvadoran Air Force.they are the last military operator of the ‘short’ Hueys, still using a few UH-1MS on gunship missions.
A Dominican Air Force UH-1H in the static park during an air display.
A rare image of one of the two UH-1BS used briefly by the Costa Rican National Guard.
A Guatemalan Air Force UH-1H, the last example received by the force in 2010.
The sole UH-1H used by the Haitian Coast Guard, seen at Port-au-prince on April 4, 2010.
One of the five remaining UH-1HS of the Honduran Air Force.
The two Bell 205As of the Mexican Navy, used in the 1980s with serials HMR-140 and HMR-141.
Two of the five Bell 205A-1s received in 1973, which served until 2000 at the Escuadrón Aéreo de Búsqueda, Rescate y Evacuación 209 in Mexico.
The first UH-1H received by the Fuerza Aérea Panameña in 1970. A line of eight of the 10 Bell UH-1BS received by the Fuerza Aérea Panameña in 1976. One of the Aidc-built UH-1HS donated by Taiwan to the Fuerza Aérea Paraguaya.
Rare picture of the sole AB-205 used by the Fuerza Aérea Sandinista of Nicaragua.
The sole UH-1B, called Lady Ellen, used by the Contras in Nicaragua during their operations against the government.the Fuerza Aérea Sandinista also briefly used a single AB-205.
The Peruvian National Police received a total of 44 Hueys in the form of UH-1HS and Huey IIS, all supplied by the US Department of State to assist in the fight against drug traffickers.they were the only government-operated UH-1S in Peru by this time, as the navy and air force had retired their examples.
One of the Peruvian Air Force UH-1DS recovering its predecessor, a Bell 47 helicopter.they were retired in the Eighties.
An early paint scheme used by a Peruvian Air Force UH-1D.THE force was the first user of the model in Latin America, receiving them in 1965.
The Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya uses a small fleet of UH-1HS on transport and air assault duties.the last received were four former Spanish Army examples, of which one is already in service and the others are being overhauled. Here, the FAU-053, received in 1998, flies over the Río de la Plata.
A factory photo of four UH-1DS built for the Venezuelan Air Force and delivered in 1969.
One of the four Bell UH-1BS used by the Venezuelan Air Force.the Bs first entered service in 1963 and continued until 2005.