Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Helicopters
Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Helicopters

Royal Thai Army to Receive Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Reconnaissance Helicopters

The Boeing Co., Mesa, Arizona, was awarded a $103,774,884 modification to contract for AH-6i aircraft. The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Thailand of eight (8) AH-6i light attack reconnaissance helicopters and related equipment for an estimated cost of $400 million. The Boeing AH-6 is a series of light helicopter gunships based on the MH-6 Little Bird and MD 500 family. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of May 30, 2025. Fiscal 2010 Foreign Military Sales (Thailand) funds in the amount of $103,774,884 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity. The deal, which will see the ‘Little Bird’ helicopters built at Boeing’s Mesa facility in Arizona, will run till 30 May 2025.

The Government of Thailand has requested to buy eight (8) AH-6i light attack reconnaissance helicopters; fifty (50) AGM-114R Hellfire missiles; and two-hundred (200) Advance Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) Rockets. Also included are ten (10) M134 Mini Guns, ten (10) M260 Rocket Launchers; ten (10) M299 Longbow Hellfire Launcher; ten (10) AN/APN-209 Radar Altimeter; eight (8) AN/APR-39(V)(4) four (4) GAU-19/B .50 Cal Machine Gun; five-hundred (500) Hydra 70 Rockets; twenty (20) AN/AVS-6 Night Vision Goggles; eight (8) WESCAM MX-10Di Cameras; ten (10) AN/APX-123 IFF; ten (10) AN/ARC 201E-VHF-FM; ten (10) AN/ARC-231 w/ MX-4027; ten (10) LN-251 Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (EGI); Aircrew Trainer (ACT); Pilot Desktop Trainer (PDT); Virtual Maintenance Trainer and other related elements of logistics.

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Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Helicopters
Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Reconnaissance Helicopters

The Boeing MH-6M Little Bird (nicknamed the Killer Egg) and its attack variant, the AH-6, are light helicopters used for special operations in the United States Army. Originally based on a modified OH-6A, it was later based on the MD 500E, with a single five-bladed main rotor. The newest version, the MH-6M, is based on the MD 530F and has a single, six-bladed main rotor and four-bladed tail rotor. In 2009, it was reported that Boeing was working on the “AH-6S Phoenix” for the US Army’s restarted ARH program, named Armed Aerial Scout. The AH-6S design is stretched by 15 inches (380 mm). The aircraft also would feature an extended aerodynamic nose to house avionics hardware. AH-6S cockpit and main rotor composite blades are to be based the AH-64D Block III. The AH-6S will have an improved tail rotor and a more powerful Rolls-Royce 250-CE30 engine.

While the AH-6i is aimed at international customers, its handling qualities are representative of what Boeing intends to offer for AAS, although the army’s requirements have not yet been released. The cockpit will be based around the feel of the company’s AH-64 Apache Longbow Block III, the newest model of the attack helicopter, deliveries of which have begun recently. The AH-6i first flew on September 16, 2009. Jordan has expressed interest in ordering the AH-6i in May 2010. In October 2010 Saudi Arabia requested 36 AH-6i aircraft with related equipment and weapons from the United States through a Foreign Military Sale. Kaman Corporation is developing a retrofittable graphite epoxy rotorblade for the AH-6i. In October 2012, the AH-6i completed a flight demonstration for the U.S. Army in anticipation of the Armed Aerial Scout program. While the AH-6i is aimed at international customers, Boeing intends to offer it for the program. The Army ended the AAS program in late 2013.

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