AH-6i Ontwikkelingen

Gestart door Ace1, 28/05/2015 | 20:15 uur


Saudi AH-6i deliveries to begin mid-2016

Saudi Arabia is to begin receiving 24 AH-6i helicopters from the end of June 2016.

Saudi Arabia is set to receive the first of 24 Boeing AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopters in June 2016, a US Army spokesperson confirmed to IHS Jane's on 9 October.

Production of the helicopter for the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) will commence at Boeing's Mesa facility in Arizona on 1 December, with the first being handed over on 30 June 2016.

The confirmation follows a 'sources sought' notice for the transportation of an unspecified number of helicopters from the United States to the kingdom, as well as for pilot and maintainer training, that was issued by the US Army's Non-Standard Rotary-Wing Aircraft project office (NSRWA PO) earlier this year.

Boeing was awarded the contract to build the light attack and reconnaissance helicopters in September 2014 (although it was actually revealed by Boeing in late 2013). A company official had previously stated that deliveries would begin in December 2016 and run through to the end of the following year at a rate of two helicopters per month, although this now seems not to be the case.

The AH-6i procurement is part of a wider build-up of the SANG's rotary-winged capabilities, which includes the procurement of 12 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters and 24 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk transport helicopters. The SANG's Apaches are expected to begin arriving sometime this year (this may have already started), while images have been posted online claiming to show the first UH-60Ms arriving in Saudi Arabia (the US Army has failed to respond to an IHS Jane's request for confirmation).

Further to the SANG's procurements, the Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF) began receiving the first of its 36 new Apaches in September 2014, and the Royal Guard is reported to be acquiring 10 AH-64Es also (although it is believed that these may instead be diverted to the RSLF).



Paris Air Show 2015: Boeing to start work on AH-6i production facility later this year

Gareth Jennings, Paris - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly | June 15, 2015

Boeing is to begin building a production line for its AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopter later this year, a company official disclosed in late May.

Speaking ahead of the Paris Air Show, Brad Rounding, business development for rotary-winged platforms at Boeing's Mesa facility in Arizona, said that work to build the line would start in December, with assembly of the first helicopter following in December 2016. The line will then produce the 24 helicopters currently contracted at a rate of two per month through to December 2017.

As had been previously announced, MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) will provide the green fuselages ahead of systems and weapons integration by Boeing.

"Having a warm production line will be a real game changer for the AH-6i, giving potential customers a real show of confidence in the aircraft," Rounding said.

Boeing currently has one customer for its AH-6i, with 24 helicopters under contract. While Rounding declined to name the customer, the US Army has officially disclosed it to be Saudi Arabia.

This contract was awarded to Boeing in September 2014 (although it was actually revealed by Boeing in late 2013), and in April of this year the US Army's Non-Standard Rotary-Wing Aircraft project office (NSRWA PO) issued a sources sought notice for transporting these helicopters from the United States to Saudi Arabia, as well as for pilot and maintainer training.

The first production-standard AH-6i made its maiden flight out of Mesa on 1 May. According to Rounding, this aircraft, which the company has designated the AH-6X, is currently undergoing flight trails.

Boeing has previously estimated a potential global market of around 700 helicopters for the Little Bird, predominately aimed at replacing ageing MD 500-series and AH-1 Cobra platforms. While Rounding declined to name specific countries, he said that there was a great deal of interest shown by several potential operators. Jordan signed a letter of intent some years ago, but has yet to sign a contract.

Though this number includes the 400-something helicopters for the US Army's now-defunct Armed Aerial Scout requirement, the service has said that it still has a requirement for a light observation helicopter of this class, raising the prospect for a future procurement.

A fighter without a gun . . . is like an airplane without a wing.

-- Brigadier General Robin Olds, USAF.


Citaat van: Poleme op 12/06/2015 | 01:11 uur
Uitbreiding van onze heli vloot met 2 nieuwe types zoals de AH-1Z en CH-53K is zelfs bij een defensie begroting opgehoogd met EUR 1 miljard per jaar financieel niet haalbaar.  In Den Haag zal je met dit idee ook geen poot aan de grond krijgen.

Het klopt wat je zegt maar een AH-6i die de Rotor, boordcomputer en instrumenten van de Apache deelt zal toch een ander verhaal zijn?


Boeing Will Begin Production of AH-6i 'Little Bird' This Year

Boeing will start production of the AH-6i international variant of the Little Bird light attack helicopter this year.

Boeing Defense will begin production of the AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopter in Mesa, Ariz., by the end of the year. The manufacturer declined to name the first buyer, which the U.S. Army has previously identified as the Saudi Arabia National Guard. The latter agency will acquire 24 international Little Birds through a foreign military sale (FMS).

"We are starting up a production line this year...and this aircraft will be in production," Bradley Rounding, Boeing manager of attack helicopter business development, told reporters in Philadelphia on May 22. "So that's a significant event for our team." Boeing expects to build two helicopters per month and complete deliveries to the launch customer by December 2017.

Mesa-based MD Helicopters, formed from the former McDonnell Douglas commercial helicopter division, will supply the fuselages for the first 24 helicopters, Rounding said. Boeing will perform final assembly, flight test and delivery.

The Army awarded Boeing a $234 million FMS contract last year to supply AH-6is to Saudi Arabia. The Little Bird international variant was contained in a huge arms deal the U.S. and Saudi governments negotiated in 2010. "So far we have one (customer)," Rounding said. "We have a number of others we are working with and we're excited about future opportunities."

The AH-6i borrows from Boeing's development of the AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter and the A/MH-6M Little Bird used by U.S. special forces. Its integrated digital cockpit is Apache-derived, with a "state of the art" mission computer that manages weapons systems and sights, Rounding said. The production aircraft is fitted with an L-3 Wescam MX-15Di imaging turret with laser rangefinder and designator, but its open systems architecture supports different sensors.

There are two weapons stores on each side of aircraft, allowing for a weapons mix that includes an M-134 minigun, .50 caliber GAU-19B machine gun, M260 seven-shot rocket pods and up to four semi-active laser Hellfire missiles. These were derived from special forces helicopters. "They've developed and qualified all of the weapons on the aircraft," Rounding said. "When we developed this program, we reached back to those weapons that were already qualified for special operations and we pulled them forward to the airframe we ultimately called the AH-6i."

The wing stores also support 30-gallon conformal fuel tanks on each side, providing an additional 60 gallons of fuel, or about two and a half hours of endurance. Another option the AH-6i accommodates is a 63-gallon "Goliath" internal auxiliary fuel tank.

Boeing was conducting development testing on an AH-6X production standard helicopter in advance of starting the production line. The first production-configuration AH-6 made its maiden flight on April 18, 2014.




US Army prepares for AH-6i deliveries to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is shortly to begin receiving the first of 24 Boeing AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopters, it was disclosed on 30 March.

The US Army's Non-Standard Rotary-Wing Aircraft project office (NSRWA PO) has issued a sources sought notice for the transportation of an unspecified number of helicopters from the United States to the kingdom, as well as for pilot and maintainer training.

The notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website does not indicate a timeline for deliveries to commence, but does state that responses must be received no later than midday on 10 April.

A contract for manufacture of 24 AH-6i helicopters was awarded to Boeing in September 2014 (although it was actually revealed by Boeing in late 2013).

The AH-6i is based on the 1960s-era Hughes Model 369 (OH-6 Cayuse in US Army service) light scout helicopter, and features an enhanced powerplant, payload, and avionics package.

The Rolls-Royce 250-C30R/3M powerplant (combined with a six-bladed main rotor assembly with composite blades) gives it the ability to 'hover out of ground effect' at 6,000 ft and 95°F (the US Army's 6k/95 benchmark) with a typical mission weight of 1,800 kg (two crew members, full fuel, and weapons).

Its weapons fit includes the Dillon M134D 7.62 mm Gatling gun, General Dynamics GAU-19 12.7 mm Gatling gun, FN Herstal M3P 12.7 mm chain gun, Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, as well as a variety of seven-shot 'dumb' or laser-guided 70 mm rocket systems mounted on the four-station weapons planks (two on each side of the helicopter). The AH-6i is also equipped with a chin-mounted L-3 Wescam MX-15Di electro-optic/infrared sensor turret.

The AH-6i's improved avionics are based on the same software as the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter, making for improved performance and interoperability.

The Saudi deal marks the first sale of the AH-6i for Boeing, although Jordan has signed a letter of intent for 18 such helicopters with an option for a further six.



Een slimme zet van Boeing om de MH-6 Little Bird te voorzien van Apache Techniek.



Boeing scouts AH-6i market

Boeing's Dave Brostrom briefed media about the light armed helicopter and their expectations of its market potential at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition (LIMA2015)

"Apache – AH-64E, V-22, CH-47 and the AH-6. That's our market profile there. AH-6i has been around for couple of years now. The first customer is Saudi Arabia. 24 units with the options to buy more. They're just now going into production. Malaysia is a big market for us as well as the Philippines – we've had inquiries from Bangladesh and some others."
Genesis of the AH-6i

"So we started with the US SOCOM (Special Operations Command) MH-6 – it has the same drivetrain, it has the same engine as the AH-6i. So we took a lot of that capability and we put it into the AH-6. Then we took the Apache and we put an Apache tail rotor on this for high-hot performance and then we took the Apache software and put it into the AH-6, so it has about 89 percent of the Apache software in this aircraft.

So it's designed for scout missions, light attack missions – we can do a heck of a lot more – search and rescue – comes with a hoist if you want it. There's a whole bunch of different options we have with this airplane."

What's in the kit?


"We actually put a sensor which is an MX-15D – that's the standard sensor on this. Some of the competitors out there have a little bit smaller ones. MD Helicopters has the MX-10 – I think that's what they offer. We can put an MX-10 on this, we can put FLIR systems on this – we're pretty flexible but the standard what we try to market is MX-15Di – it's an L3 product.
So six-bladed main rotor – it's a big difference. Competitors out there: five. Tail rotor: Canted, four-bladed, Apache technology tail rotor. Competition: two-bladed. So there's a significant difference in performance with additional blades.

Our airframe is beefed up in order to handle the additional torque, so we put additional formers and stringers throughout this frame to beef it up. We've extended the nose so all of the avionics which you would see in some other competitors that are back here (rear), we've moved forward. It helps in the forward CG of the airplane, plus it frees up space here (rear).

It's a fully integrated glass cockpit. We have one of the best sensors that L3 provides – we can put others. Here's a big differentiator: crashworthy stroking seat. There are two helicopters in the world that have the best crashworthiness. One is Apache – it's about 56Gs. Number two is AH-6i. US SOCOM paid for us to develop the seat – it's stroking – it's about a 30G seat. You won't find that in any helicopter in the world in this type of class. So your most valuable asset, which is your pilots – if you have to crash, there's a pretty good chance they're going to walk away. That's why US SOCOM had us develop the seat to put it in. This is available for international customers.

All of our fuel tanks are ballistic-tolerant – .50 caliber, crashworthy – the main tank is separable – that means it's crashworthy. The aux tank is self-sealing – .50 caliber. The landing gear – we extended the landing gear for crashworthiness and also to clear the ball. So it serves two purposes. So that adds to the survivability of the airplane."


"We have a lot of different stuff we can put on there but it's Hellfire – it's fully integrated – we've launched it. It's available for international customers. We have the M-134 mini-gun which some of our competitors have – it's a Dillon gun. We have the GAU-19 .50 caliber, which we usually use as a – it's a better weapons if you're going after hard targets. And then we've got 7-shot rocket pods – we can fire lock-on-after-launch – BAE APKWS or the Raytheon Talon – it doesn't matter. Or we can fire the DAGR – the Lockheed Martin Direct Attack Guided Rocket, which is a lock-on-before-launch but thinks it's a Hellfire missile. So you acquire the target and you can shoot it. You don't have to be in forward movement when you fire the rocket. And of course the SAL (Semi-Active Laser) Hellfire.

If you take a look at the back end – so you have different planks you can put on – Dillon makes one – but what it does is allow you to mix-and-match a lot of things. So our fuel tank here – that's 60 gallons, so it gives you another two hours of fuel. If you're firing an M-134, the cans are 3,000 rounds on each side. That's 6,000 rounds of 7.62. If you're firing the GAU-19, it's 3,000. So significant amount of ammunition. Compare that to our competitors. So we carry more ammunition.

And then the dual weapons pylons – Hellfire, 7-shot rocket – you can mix-and-match – it has very high lateral CG, so we're not afraid to mix-and-match weapons."


"The engine: we have 250-C47E/1 (Rolls-Royce), which is a bit more powerful than our competitors – dual FADEC for reduced uncommanded failures, better performance – so that's what we use in this aircraft. The same engine that the US Army's been using for years. In their Kiowa Warriors and their Task Force 160, so it's a very reliable engine."

Fuel Capacity

"Competitors: They don't have an extra fuel tank. The planks where they mount their weapons is a fuel tank, but its' not ballistic tolerant, which is an issue. So your weapons are hanging on a fuel tank. Different concept – works, right – but it also takes up more space so the weapons cans are a little bit less – they don't carry as much weapons, 'cos it's sitting on those fuel tanks. So we've designed it to put it in the back. This is about 60 gallons. This is all engineered to fit.

This tank – it's easy. If you want to slide it out, you can – put something else, put it right back in. You can fire a Herstal, like it's out there on the MD – that'll fit here – not a problem, so that's self-contained and that would free all this space up for seats – put seats in the back.

Minutes, just minutes. It was designed for swapping and mission change."


"This is a differentiator: 4,700 pounds – that's max. gross weight. Useful load is 2,400 pounds. No restrictions on landing and taking off. With the competitors you can take off with a full load of gas and weapons and everything – you can't land. You have to jettison or reduce the weight in order to land. That's a big differentiator. We're not constrained here with that restriction."


That's just a picture of this MX-15 and how much you can zoom – it's a very capable stand-off sensor. Night and day – laser range finder and designator – automatic video tracker – it has a better GPS system – laser spot tracker – laser illuminator, so there's a lot of capability in here, especially if you're designating for a JDAM for fixed wing.
So it's really good for interoperability with other services. This sensor is better than what's on the Apache. Just more fidelity and clarity. Range is about the same as on the Apache."


"They like it because it's designed to go into austere environments and it doesn't require a whole logistical trail like the Apache. Apache requires a support trail. This doesn't – couple of tool boxes.

You could put troops on one side and weapons on the other if that's what you want to do."

Interoperability with Apache AH-64

AH-6i Cockpit

"This is the Apache – the rear cockpit, the pylon station on the Apache – it looks very similar to this. Same multi function displays – these are a little bit bigger 'cos we had the room – you have the heads-up display, stand-by instruments – all that is there. The buttons are the same so if an Apache helicopter came in, this aircraft could do digital target transfer – it could accept targets from the Apache, it could deliver digital messages to the Apache – and guess what – they use the same map-sheet, they use the same symbology, so it's really good for interoperability with other Apache users, like US Army.
The nation that doesn't want to buy the big behemoth of the Apache can buy one of these and they're almost connected."

Weather capability

"It has obstacle avoidance. You could technically go inadvertent IMC – in the clouds or heavy fog, program the computer, this airplane will take you right back down and hover right down to where you took off from. If you did all the obstacle avoidance planning on the map displays, it'll take you back. But it also has the capability to ILS, VOR – those things are in this aircraft."

Data and Mission Computer

"It's designed to keep the pilot outside the airplane. So all the critical information is here – so he has to wear goggles – his head is outside. It's not inside looking at a display – everything is out.

It has the digital capability – aircraft-to-aircraft, aircraft-to-ground. You can plan the complete mission – this is nothing knew, just like the Apache. You plan the mission on a Mission Planning Station. You take a disk or a thumbdrive – you plug it in.

The mission computer – large amounts of data. Talked about sharing information. The best thing about this that you have the 30 and 40 years of Apache development that's ported over to this airplane and the software is designed for a an attack helicopter pilot. It is not a commercial off-the-shelf software. So if you're an attack helicopter pilot this was designed for you. It gives you better situational awareness.

This is the FLIR, but it also has a fly through on the map display where you can just fly through your terrain just using your computer database. So, enhances situational awareness and reduces pilot workload and we have the lowest operational cost – we can prove this with any aircraft in this class. Very low operational support cost. And that's what, usually, when you buy a helicopter or any airplane – you find and very quickly discover it's very expensive to maintain and support through it's life cycle. This airplane is very low support cost.

We offer all different ranges of support, from just basic spares all the way up to full Performance Based Logistics package where we do everything. All they do is walk out and fly away."


"Apache is 60 million. Depends on what you buy with it. This is about a third of that cost. So you could say an off-the-shelf price is – depends on what you want – a basic package is around 9 or 10 million – depends on how many airplanes you want to buy and what you want to put in it.

About a third of the cost of the Apache. But it really depends on what you buy. The weapons systems are expensive – the Dillon guns are 300,000 apiece. Start adding those things on and pretty soon the price goes up. Buy Hellfire – 80,000 dollar missile – so it really depends on what you buy."

Market Potential

"The Philippines – they're interested. Bangladesh – submitted paperwork. Of course Malaysia – they have a light attack helicopter requirement they're trying to move toward. We've been asked to price 6, 12 and 24. It's an FMS case.

The launch customer was Saudi Arabia National Guard. So, 24 airplanes with options for more. There are many Middle-East countries that are coming towards us – talking, actually had some paperwork in – lot of FMS working cases, where we haven't signed any LOAs so there's a lot of interest in this aircraft."

Development and Upgrades

"Every time there's a software change in the Apache, we can apply it to this. It's all open system architecture, so the growth path in this is very good.

We developed it for the old army scout program and that fell through but we decided that there was an international market and that's how we're doing it. So we used a lot of the – of what Special Operations Command is telling us to do – we leveraged."

Maritime Operations

"This airplane has been used of ships for many years. The taskforce – they don't navalize it, they don't maritime it – they just wash it a lot. You can marinize – you can dip – we have a process, if the customer wants we can dip it."