MH-6j / AH-6j Little Bird Helicopter
The AH-6j / MH-6j 'Little Bird' are light attack/utility helicopters operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Both the AH-6 and MH-6 are based around a civilian airframe (MD530F), with extensive modifications in terms of avionics and provisions for the mounting of specialized equipment and weapons systems.
Little Bird - Roles
AH-6 - Role
The AH-6 is flown as an attack helicopter, usually toting two M134 7.62 miniguns and 7-tube FFAR rocket pods, firing high explosive and/or fletchette anti-personnel rounds. SOAR AH-6s may be used in pre-planned attacks, close air support or in the escort role, protecting other SOAR birds.
MH-6 - Role
The MH-6 is unarmed and is designed as a troop transport helicopter. It's small size allows it to land on small roofs or down in narrow streets.
Little Bird - Variants
The Night Stalkers fly several versions of the Little Bird. All variants feature a 5-bladed main rotor, APR 39 radar warning receiver, secure comms, GPS navigation, can be fitted with a forward looking infrared (FLIR) pod and feature Night Vision Goggles-compatible cockpits.
Little Birds can be rapidly 'broken down' and air transported in cargo planes, then quickly built up at their destination.
Based around the MD530 airframe, the AH-6 gunship features pylons for the loading over a number of weapons systems including:
- M134 miniguns
- M260 FFAR rocket pods
- AGM-114 laser-guided anti-tank missiles
- GAU-19 .50 cal 3-barrel gatling guns
For target acquisition, AH-6Js can fitted with a AN/AAQ-16D AESOP FLIR, which features a laser designator-range finder, which is used to paint targets for the AGM-114 laser-guided missiles.
Also based on the MD530, the MH-6j is configured for the insertion and extraction of special operations forces and can be configured with specialized equipment for this task:
- external personnel pods (EPS)
fold-down benches fitted each side of the fuselage which each can hold 2-3 men
- fast rope insertion / extraction (FRIES) gear
- racks for carrying motorcycles (up to 2)
- winch / hoist system
AH-6M/MH-6M Mission Enhanced Little Bird
The US Army's Mission-Enhanced Little Bird [MELB] program is currently upgraded the existing AH/MH-6j fleet. These improvements include:
- six-bladed main-rotors
- four-bladed tail rotor
- improved engines
- enhanced avionics including:
- 1553 data bus
- Full Authority Digital Electronic Control software
- Next generation FLIR
AH-6/MH-6 - Crew
Although Little Birds can be crewed by just one pilot, it's more common that they are crewed by 2 Night Stalkers:
|Crew||2 - Pilot, Co-pilot|
|Engines||1 425-shp Allison 250- C30 turboshaft|
|Dimensions||L - 9.8m
W (rotorspan) - 8.1m
H - 2.6m
|Weights|| 896 kg (empty)
1,610 kg (max loadout)
|Max Speed||282 kph|
|Various combinations of :
2x TOW missile pods (4 missiles total)
2x M260 FFAR 2.75" 7/12-rocket pods.
2x .50 caliber gun pods
2x AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles
2x Stinger Air-to-Air Missiles
2x M134 7.62mm miniguns
2x MK19 Grenade Launchers
AN/AAQ-16D AESOP FLIR
(optional - housed in pod under cabin)
GPS / Inertial Navigation System
(FM, UHF, VHF, Motorola Saber, and SATCOM)
APR-39 Radar Warning Receiver