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USMC Growth Could Mean More Helos

By James T. McKenna | May 2, 2007

The expansion of the active-duty U.S. Marine Corps from roughly 180,000 to 202,200 personnel could very well mean an increase in the rotary-wing elements of USMC aviation, Rotor & Wing has learned. President Bush has approved the “end-strength” increase. The Marine commandant, Gen. James Conway, has told the Corps the addition won’t just be infantry troops. “We will balance the Marine Air-Ground Task Force,” including adding rotary-wing squadrons, he said. Top Marine officials later this month are to review a proposal to increase the Corps’ light-attack and heavy-lift strength each by about 50 percent. That proposal calls, among other things, for keeping Sikorsky Aircraft CH-53Ds in three squadrons that had been slated for conversion to Bell Helicopter/Boeing MV-22s, buying more than the originally planned 100 upgraded UH-1Ys Hueys and 180 AH-1Z Super Cobras, and buying the Cobras new from Bell instead of having them remanufactured. The Marines already are switching from remanufactured to new-build Hueys. For related news

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