Warplanes: Little Bird Goes International


October 16, 2008:  Boeing is offering a gunship version of the OH-6 helicopter to foreign customers. SOCOM has long used the MH-6 (and the armed version, the AH-6) version of the 1960s era OH-6. Developed in the early 1980s, the AH-6, or "Little Bird" is a 1.4 ton helicopter with a crew of two, top speed of 280 kilometers an hour. Average sortie is 3-3.5 hours. It can be armed with two 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine-gun pods, or two 70mm rocket pods (seven or 12 rockets each) or four Hellfire missiles. Without weapons, the MH-6 can carry six troops (usually Special Forces operators) externally. The new AH-6 would also carry a day night targeting system, including a laser designator.

Later versions of the AH-6 were based on a similar helicopter, the MD-500. The new AH-6 enables nations to have helicopter gunship capability at a cost of  only about six million dollars per aircraft. That's about a tenth of what a AH-64D would cost, and a third of what a Russian gunship goes for it. Little Bird could be a bid deal on the international market.




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