The Boeing AH-6 is a series of light helicopter gunships/reconnaissance helicopter based on the MH-6 Little Bird and MD 500 family. Developed by Boeing Rotorcraft Systems, these include the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) demonstrator, the A/MH-6X Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB), and the proposed AH-6I and AH-6S. The helicopter is intended to provide close air support for land-based forces. It can also serve as an attack platform for destroying enemy tanks, armoured vehicles and fortifications. The prototype helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight in September 2009. The AH-6 is a highly capable light attack / armed reconnaissance helicopter specifically designed with superior performance characteristics and flexible, easily configurable mission equipment ideal for Light Attack, Precision Attack, Anti-armor, Close Combat Attacks, Reconnaissance, Security & Escort, Troop Insertion/Extraction, Combat Search & Rescue.
The airframe structure was strengthened to cope with the increased weight and weapons fit. The fuselage includes a ballistic tolerant main tank and a new forward canopy structure for the avionics bay. The ground clearance is increased with an extended height landing gear. The modular design allows the integration of flexible mission configurations, as well as additional capabilities for future requirements. The helicopter features new main and tail rotor systems for superior performance. The flight characteristics were further improved with the addition of enhanced directional control, a new vertical stabiliser and collective trim actuator. The AH-6 helicopter has a length of 7.5m, height of 1.6m and width of 3.3m. AH-6i is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C30R/3M engine which develops a power output of 650shp. The engine is controlled by Full Authority Digital Electronic Controller (FADEC). It enables a maximum speed of 132kt.
The AH-6i helicopter features a lightweight multiple weapons support system for mounting wide range of weapons, including the M-134D 7.62mm mini-gun, GAU-19 12.7mm mini-gun, M260 seven-shot rocket pod, laser-guided 70mm Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR) and Hellfire semi-active laser (SAL) missiles. The AH-6 Light Attack helicopter can carry a payload of 907kg. The wing span of the rotorcraft is 8.38m. The Hellfire is a laser guided air-to-surface missile (ASM) equipped with multimission, multitarget precision-strike capabilities. The integrated weapon support system enables the AH-6 to perform counteraction missions involving the destruction of key enemy installations. The AH-6i helicopter features an L-3 Wescam MX-15Di EO/IR targeting sensor system.
The new advanced glass cockpit design of AH-6i incorporates bubble-window crew doors. The cockpit accommodates two crew, including a pilot and co-pilot. The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit integrates two multifunction displays, an up-front display, a 3-in-1 flight information display, vertical information display and pilot and co-pilot intercom control station (ICS) panels. Dedicated panels are provided for electrical power, radio control, armament, jettison and lighting. The MX-15Di can be integrated with up to six high-performance sensors, including a laser designator with LRF, laser illuminator, eye-safe laser range-finder, colour daylight camera with zoom lens, mono daylight camera with spotter lens and an infra red (IR) with high magnification four-step zoom. The navigation equipment and systems onboard the AH-6i include a LN251 INS/GPS, Boeing integrated digital map, L3 standby flight instrumentation system, HARCO air data computer and an APN-209 radar altimeter.