Boeing awarded $48M order for further Little Bird MELB kits

Boeing was awarded a $48 million IDIQ contract for the production of Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB) kits to upgrade the USSOCOM A/MH-6 helicopters, the US Department of Defense said on December 19, 2018.

Boeing awarded 48M order for further Little Bird MELB kits 001 160th SOAR MH-6M Little Bird light assault helicopter at SOFIC 2018 exhibition
(Credit: Air Recognition)

A majority of the work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, and is expected to be completed by December 2026. (…) USSOCOM, Tampa, Florida, is the contracting activity,” the US DoD said. 

A special operations gunship variant of the MD 500/530, the A/M-H6 Little Bird is operated by the US Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The MH-6H assault transport version of the Little Bird fleet is nearly identical to the AH-6, except that it is designed to carry troops and has no provisions for armaments. Two or three troops can be carried internally and up to six externally on fold down platforms. 

Both platforms are being upgraded under the same Mission-Enhanced Little Bird [MELB] program. The new AH/MH-6M (Mission Enhanced Little Bird, or MELB).

The MELB program introduced a number of Improvements to the Little Bird line, including a 6-bladed main rotor and 4-bladed tail rotor. An improve tail boom and tail rotor drive system, chambered vertical fin and improved tail stinger were also added, The helicopter's cabin features enlarged aft doors / openings and improved landing gear (struts).

Other features include crashworthy main fuel tanks that are resistant to small arms fire up to and including .50 cal and optional external extended-range fuel tanks.