Produced by MD Helicopters, the MH-6 Little Bird (aka: Killer Egg) was first introduced in 1980 after its initial flight in February of 1963. The US Army, the primary user of the Little Bird, uses the aircraft for their Special Operations.
Design and Development
In 1960, the US Army dispensed specifications for a light observation helicopter, which could also be used as a personnel transport aircraft. The helicopter would also need to be capable of escort and attack missions and casualty evacuations.
In May of 1965, the US Army contracted Hughes for production of the MH-6 Little Bird and submitted an order for 714, eventually increasing it to 1,300. Within the first month of production, 70 helicopters were manufactured.
The MH-6 Little Bird is an unarmed aircraft, with an outboard bench design on each side to accommodate up to six commandos. A smaller variant of this aircraft – the AH-6 – is painted black and used in nighttime operations for inserting and extracting Special Forces quickly into areas unreachable by the larger MH-60 Black Hawk.
Operational History of the Little Bird
The MH-6 Little Bird helicopter has been involved in a number missions including Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada (1983), as support for the contras flying missions into Nicaragua, Operation Prime Chance (1987) to guard merchant ships after a Kuwaiti oil tanker struck a mine in the Persian Gulf, Operation Just Cause (the 1989 invasion of Panama), Operation Gothic Serpent (1993) during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia and most recently in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom and in 2009 during Operation Celestrial Balance in which US Navy SEALs were sent to Somalia to kill terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan.
Variants and Specifications
Since its inception in 1980, the MH-6 helicopter has had numerous variations which were basically modified after the following three aircraft:
- Originally the OH-6A
- MD 500E (equipped with one five-blade main rotor)
- Most recent - MD 530F (equipped with one six-bladed main rotor and a four-bladed tail rotor
- Crew: 2
- Total Capacity: Up to six on the MH-6s variant
- Maximum Take-Off Load: 3,100 lbs.
- Maximum Speed: 175 miles per hour, with a cruising speed of 155 mph
- Range: 267 miles
- Rate of Climb: 2,061 feet per minute
- 2 x 30mm M230 Chain Gun (or)
- 2 x 12.7mm GAU-19 (or)
- 2 x 7.62mm M123 Minigun
- 2 x LAU-68D/A 7 - tube rocket pods
- Anti-tank – 2 x AGM – 114 Hellfire (guided)
- Anti-air – 2 x FIM – 92 Stinger (self-defense)
The MH-6 Little Bird Helicopter, still in active service with the US Army, is also utilized by the FBI HRT and the US Special Operations Command.