AH-6J Little Bird
Flown by the operators from the 160th SOAR 'Nightstalkers', the US Army's Special Operations helicopter unit, the AH-6J 'Little Bird' is a light attack helicopter designed to support Special Operations.
Based around MD-500 / MD-530F helicopters, the AH-6J is fitted with GPS/inertial navigation systems and a FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) camera.
A range of weapons systems can be attached to the Little Bird's hardpoints, including gatling guns, FFAR rocket pods, grenade launchers and anti-tank missiles. The most common loadout is 2x gun pods (.50 cal or 7.62mm gatlings) and 2 x FFAR rocket pods.
(3x ah-6js can fit in one C-130 cargo plane)
- secure communications
- radar warning receiver
- bubble canopy provides excellent all-round visibility
- 5-blade main rotor
- optional AN/AAQ-16D AESOP flir/laser pod enables the use of AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles
- all-weather day/night capability
- 1983 - AH-6 gunships drew first blood during the US intervention in Grenada
- 1987 - engaged Iranian gunboats in the Persian Gulf
- 1989 - amongst other operations, SOAR AH-6J gunships supported the Delta Force rescue of Kurt Muse during Operation Just Cause, Panama, 1989
- 1993 - Somalia - SOAR Little Birds provided close air support to Rangers and Delta Force actions in the capital
- 2003 - SOAR AH-6Js carried out direct action attacks in support of the US-led invasion of Iraq
The AH-6J 's loadout includes 7-tube FFAR rocket launchers. The normal munitions used are HE (High Explosives) although smoke and illumination rounds can also be deployed.
Some AH-6Js carry a AESOP Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor and laser-range finder under the fuselage. Output from the FLIR can be recorded onto VHS for later analysis. When carried, the AESOP's coded laser can be used to designate targets for Hellfire AGM-114s onboard the AH-6J itself or other attack helicopters or even laser-guided smart bombs on friendly strike aircraft.
||2 - Pilot, Co-pilot
||1 425-shp Allison 250- C30 turboshaft
||L - 9.8m
W (rotorspan) - 8.1m
H - 2.6m
|| 896 kg (empty)
1,610 kg (max loadout)
||Various combinations of :
2x TOW missile pods (4 missiles total)
2x M260 FFAR 2.75" 7/12-rocket pods.
2x .50 caliber gun pods
Hellfire anti-tank missiles
2x Stinger Air-to-Air Missiles
2x M134 7.62mm miniguns
2x MK19 Grenade Launchers
AN/AAQ-16D AESOP FLIR
(optional - housed in pod under cabin)
GPS / Inertial Navigation System
(FM, UHF, VHF, Motorola Saber, and SATCOM)
APR-39 Radar Warning Receiver
AH-6J armed with rockets and miniguns, on operations in Iraq during the 2003 Operation Iraqi Freedom.