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Boeing AH-6i is a light attack / reconnaissance helicopter designed primarily for export markets. It is an advanced variant of the AH-6M helicopter operated by the US Army Special Operations Forces. The helicopter is intended to provide close air support for land-based forces. It can also serve as an attack platform for destroying enemy tanks, armoured vehicles and fortifications.
The AH-6 rotorcraft programme was announced by Boeing at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition held in October 2008. Boeing began the construction of the first AH-6i prototype at its Mesa facility in early 2009. The prototype helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight in September 2009.
Boeing conducted a flight demonstration of the AH-6i for the US Army’s Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) programme in September 2012.
Design of Boeing’s AH-6i
AH-6i incorporates the combat-proven airframe design of the AH-6M helicopter. The airframe structure was strengthened to cope with the increased weight and weapons fit. The fuselage includes a ballistic tolerant main tank and a new forward canopy structure for the avionics bay.
The ground clearance is increased with an extended height landing gear. The modular design allows the integration of flexible mission configurations, as well as additional capabilities for future requirements.
The helicopter features new main and tail rotor systems for superior performance. The flight characteristics were further improved with the addition of enhanced directional control, a new vertical stabiliser and collective trim actuator.
The AH-6i helicopter has a length of 7.5m, height of 1.6m and width of 3.3m. The wing span of the rotorcraft is 8.38m. The helicopter can carry a payload of 907kg.
Cockpit and avionics of the helicopter
The new advanced glass cockpit design of AH-6i incorporates bubble-window crew doors. The cockpit accommodates two crew, including a pilot and co-pilot. The night vision goggle (NVG) compatible cockpit integrates two multifunction displays, an up-front display, a 3-in-1 flight information display, vertical information display and pilot and co-pilot intercom control station (ICS) panels.
Dedicated panels are provided for electrical power, radio control, armament, jettison and lighting.
Lightweight multiple weapons support
The AH-6i helicopter features a lightweight multiple weapons support system for mounting wide range of weapons, including the M-134D 7.62mm mini-gun, GAU-19 12.7mm mini-gun, M260 seven-shot rocket pod, laser-guided 70mm Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket (FFAR) and Hellfire semi-active laser (SAL) missiles.
The Hellfire is a laser guided air-to-surface missile (ASM) equipped with multimission, multitarget precision-strike capabilities. The integrated weapon support system enables the AH-6 to perform counteraction missions involving the destruction of key enemy installations.
Sensor system and communications
The AH-6i helicopter features an L-3 Wescam MX-15Di EO/IR targeting sensor system.
The MX-15Di can be integrated with up to six high-performance sensors, including a laser designator with LRF, laser illuminator, eye-safe laser range-finder, colour daylight camera with zoom lens, mono daylight camera with spotter lens and an infra red (IR) with high magnification four-step zoom.
The navigation equipment and systems onboard the AH-6i include a LN251 INS/GPS, Boeing integrated digital map, L3 standby flight instrumentation system, HARCO air data computer and an APN-209 radar altimeter.
The helicopter is equipped with Wulfsberg RT5000/C5000 digital communications system.
Engine onboard Boeing’s AH-6i
AH-6i is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C30R/3M engine which develops a power output of 650shp. The engine is controlled by Full Authority Digital Electronic Controller (FADEC). It enables a maximum speed of 132kt.
Helicopter orders and deliveries
In July 2010, Boeing and MD Helicopters signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to jointly produce and market the AH-6i helicopter.
In May 2010, Jordan’s Government signed a letter of intent for procuring the AH-6i light attack / reconnaissance helicopter.
In February 2012, Boeing and the Saudi Arabian Government signed a letter of acceptance for 36 AH-6i helicopters.
The Chilean Ministry of Defence expressed interest in the AH-6i helicopters. Other South American nations including Colombia, Brazil and Argentina also showed their interest in the AH-6i helicopter.
The Global Military Rotorcraft Market 2011-2021
This project forms part of our recent analysis and forecasts of the global military rotorcraft market available from our business information platform Strategic Defence Intelligence. For more information click here or contact us: EMEA: +44 20 7936 6783; Americas: +1 415 439 4914; Asia Pacific: +61 2 9947 9709 or via email.
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