Boeing to build AH-6 light helicopter gunships and avionics for Thailand in $103.8 million contract

Feb. 21, 2022
AH-6 is a light helicopter gunship based on the MH-6 Little Bird and MD 500 family of light military helicopters, which includes the AH-6 and AH-6S.

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Military helicopter designers at the Boeing Co. Defense, Space & Security segment in Mesa, Ariz., are preparing to build AH-6 light helicopter gunships for the government of Thailand.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced a $103.8 million contract to Boeing Friday to build AH-6 light helicopter gunships for Thailand.

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-6 and AH-6S.

The AH-6 and its avionics 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.

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The U.S. State Department in 2019 approved the sale of AH-6 to Thailand at an estimated cost of $400 million to replace the country's aging fleet of seven Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters.

Thailand officials also want to buy M299 Longbow Hellfire launchers, 50 AGM-114R Hellfire missiles, M260 rocket launchers, and Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided rockets.

Thailand also wants to buy L3 Wescam MX-10Di sensor and laser-designator turrets M134 Mini Guns, GAU-19/B .50 caliber machine guns, 500 Hydra 70 rockets, night-vision goggles, communications and navigation equipment, an aircrew trainer, a pilot desktop trainer, a virtual maintenance trainer, training, and related program support.

The single-engine AH-6 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.

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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.

Potential armament for the AH-6 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-6 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 May 2025. 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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