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Boeing upgrades US Special Operations Forces A/MH-6 Little Bird light attack helicopter

Boeing is upgrading the fleet of unique helicopters that used for special operations in the United States Army under the Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB) program.The 47machines currently in staffing must indeed remain operational until at least 2035.

Boeing upgrades US Special Operations Forces AMH 6 Little Bird light attack helicopter A/MH-6X Mission Enhanced Little Birds (Picture source: US Army)

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 AH-6’s mission computer processes large amounts of data and shares information across all aircraft systems quickly. It also increases safety, improves and aids rapid decision making, enhances situational awareness, reduces pilot workload and decreases aircraft life cycle support costs.

Currently all Little Birds are guaranteed to be able to protect the crew from short bursts of weapons type AK47. Their ballistic protection also puts them (in theory) safe from the 5.56mm NATO caliber.

The MELB program covers the upgrade of the main components of the A/MH-6 Little Bird helicopter to improve the safety margin, flight controls, and update cockpit. The improved helicopter received new rotor blades, longer tail boom, a new rear gearbox. The MELB in Block 3.0 new configuration also includes a better ability to fly at high altitudes in hot weather, a 500 pound higher payload capacity, improved flight controls, and an improved cockpit with a full moving map.

Earlier this year, SOCOM has announced plans to extend the service life of the A/MH-6 Little Bird helicopter into the 2030s before it finally retires.