Boeing gets production capacity in place to build 24 AH-6I light helicopter gunships

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 4 Sept. 2014. Military helicopter designers at the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in Mesa, Ariz., are preparing to build 24 new AH-6I light helicopter gunships. Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced a $234.7 million contract to Boeing late last week for long-lead items for the production and delivery of 24 AH-6I helicopter gunships.

Boeing gets production capacity in place to build 24 AH-6I light helicopter gunships
Boeing gets production capacity in place to build 24 AH-6I light helicopter gunships
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 4 Sept. 2014. Military helicopter designers at the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in Mesa, Ariz., are preparing to build 24 new AH-6I light helicopter gunships.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced a $234.7 million contract to Boeing late last week for long-lead items for the production and delivery of 24 AH-6I helicopter gunships.

Long-lead items involve government payments for equipment and subsystems that take the longest to design and build, and for which an early commitment of money may be necessary to meet production deadlines.

The Boeing AH-6 is a series of light helicopter gunships based on the MH-6 Little Bird and MD 500 family of light military helicopters, which includes the unmanned Little Bird (ULB) demonstrator, the A/MH-6X mission enhanced little bird (MELB), and the AH-6I and AH-6S.

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The AH-6I is an export version of the AH-6S -- a proposed version of the AH-6 for the now-cancelled U.S. Army's armed aerial scout program. The AH-6I light helicopter gunships involved in the contract awarded Friday are for Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabian army has ordered 36 AH-6I helicopters.

The single-engine AH-6I light helicopter gunship is about 33 feet long, nine feet high and has a 27-foot rotor diameter. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 3,100 pounds, and can carry about 1,500 pounds of payload including crew, fuel, sensors, and weapons.

The helicopter can fly as fast as 152 knots, at altitudes as high as 18,700 feet, and can climb as quickly as 2,000 feet per minute. It can accommodate a crew of one or two, and could carry a total of five people, if necessary.

Related: Boeing moves Apache Block III attack helicopter program forward with $187 million Army contract

Potential armament for the AH-6I includes an M230 Chain Gun, 50-caliber machine guns, 7.62-millimeter minigun, 2.75-inch rockets, Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and Stinger missiles for self defense.

The AH-6I avionics capitalizes on software developed for the Army Boeing AH-64 Longbow attack helicopter. Its avionics are based on an open architecture, have a flexible mission configuration, digital cockpit, full-color, touch-screen multifunction displays, and engine infrared suppression.

On this contract Boeing will do the work in Mesa, Ariz., and should be finished by the end of 2016. For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/boeing/bds, or the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal at www.acc.army.mil/contractingcenters/acc-rsa.

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