Saudi Arabia is to shortly begin receiving the first of 24 Boeing AH-6i attack and reconnaissance helicopters. Source: IHS/Gareth Jennings
Saudi Arabia is shortly to begin receiving the first of 24 Boeing AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopters, it was disclosed on 30 March.
The US Army's Non-Standard Rotary-Wing Aircraft project office (NSRWA PO) has issued a sources sought notice for the transportation of an unspecified number of helicopters from the United States to the kingdom, as well as for pilot and maintainer training.
The notice posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website does not indicate a timeline for deliveries to commence, but does state that responses must be received no later than midday on 10 April.
A contract for manufacture of 24 AH-6i helicopters was awarded to Boeing in September 2014 (although it was actually revealed by Boeing in late 2013).
The AH-6i is based on the 1960s-era Hughes Model 369 (OH-6 Cayuse in US Army service) light scout helicopter, and features an enhanced powerplant, payload, and avionics package.
The Rolls-Royce 250-C30R/3M powerplant (combined with a six-bladed main rotor assembly with composite blades) gives it the ability to 'hover out of ground effect' at 6,000 ft and 95°F (the US Army's 6k/95 benchmark) with a typical mission weight of 1,800 kg (two crew members, full fuel, and weapons).
Its weapons fit includes the Dillon M134D 7.62 mm Gatling gun, General Dynamics GAU-19 12.7 mm Gatling gun, FN Herstal M3P 12.7 mm chain gun, Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, as well as a variety of seven-shot 'dumb' or laser-guided 70 mm rocket systems mounted on the four-station weapons planks (two on each side of the helicopter). The AH-6i is also equipped with a chin-mounted L-3 Wescam MX-15Di electro-optic/infrared sensor turret.
The AH-6i's improved avionics are based on the same software as the Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter, making for improved performance and interoperability.
The Saudi deal marks the first sale of the AH-6i for Boeing, although Jordan has signed a letter of intent for 18 such helicopters with an option for a further six.
US Army prepares for AH-6i deliveries to Saudi Arabia - IHS Jane's 360