Special Operations: Pimp My Little Bird


October 10, 2011: U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) is upgrading its MH-60, MH-47 and AH-6 helicopters with improved fire-control systems. A new and improved forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR) and laser designator is especially important for the AH-6, which is a gunship version of the MH-6 "Little Bird" light transport helicopter. In a place like Afghanistan, the small AH-6 is, armed with half a ton of weapons (usually a 7.62mm/12.7mm/30mm machine-gun and guided missiles), has proved to be particularly effective. Both AH-6 and MH-6 are military versions of the civilian MD-500. The MH-6 weighs up to two tons and can carry six commandos, who sit outside on the skids. The MH-6 is small, and has a range of about 500 kilometers. The MH-6 has an extensive array of electronics on board, making it capable of operating at night and in any weather. The AH-6 replaced the six commandos with weapons and fire control systems.

The SOCOM helicopters have always been equipped to fly at night, and in the last decade have received better fire control systems for fighting at night. SOCOM wants new helicopters, but shrinking budgets means that upgrades and refurbishment will be more common.


Article Archive

Special Operations: Current 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close