MD 969 is a new multi-mission combat attack helicopter developed by MD Helicopters, a commercial and military rotorcraft manufacturer based in the US.
The helicopter is an upgraded version of the field-proven MD 900/902 Explorer series multi-role twin-engine helicopter.
MD 969 rotorcraft can perform a range of military, para-military, and utility operations such as fast attack, combat search-and-rescue (SAR), troop deployment, command and control, causality evacuation (CASEVAC), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).
The weaponised configuration of the helicopter was displayed at the Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo 2019 held in Atlanta, US, in March 2019.
MD 969 design and features
MD 969 light twin-engine attack helicopter is designed to meet the future assault and attack needs with its unmatched manoeuvrability, extended range, greater safety, and improved open architecture weapon system.
Made of composite materials, the fuselage offers greater strength to weight ratio. The helicopter features two sliding cabin doors providing a 1.3m-wide entrance space on each side.
The cabin offers a volume of 4.8m³ and can accommodate up to eight members. It also houses a machine gun to compliment fire support missions.
MD 969 features NOTAR (no tail rotor) configuration and its fully articulated, five-blade main rotor unit has a diameter of 0.85m and ground clearance of 0.27m. The tail boom integrates horizontal and vertical stabilisers.
MD 969 avionics
The helicopter features advanced avionics and flight control systems, which enable the crew to perform multiple tasks with ease.
MD 969 rotorcraft houses a customisable, next-generation Genesys Aerosystems advanced IDU-680 integrated all-glass cockpit, which is also found in the MD 530G scout attack helicopter.
The Aerosystems IDU-680 is an open architecture system equipped with 100% digital primary and multi-functional displays. It further allows for upgrades to the existing systems and installation of new functionalities without the need for replacing the hardware.
IDU-680 assists the pilot by providing 3D synthetic vision, geo-referenced hover vector, weather radar integration, integrated ADS-B traffic display, graphical FMS data, VHF navigation data, internal communication, and maps. The system also displays engine parameters and integrates engine instrument crew advisory system (EICAS).
The cockpit dashboard accommodates a 12in Macro-Blue tactical display, complying with the military and DO-160 environmental standards. The system displays data related to weapons and mission management.
The helicopter also features an advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) system near the nose section, which transforms the helicopter into an attack-reconnaissance platform.
MD 969 weapon systems
The rotorcraft is installed with 0.3m integrated composite weapons planks below the doors on either side of the fuselage. The planks can accommodate up to six-station fixed forward weapon installations.
MD 969 is the first light attack helicopter to integrate a seven-shot common launch tube (CLT) weapon system. Manufactured by Systima Technologies, the CLT can deploy a range of guided missile mutations, small unmanned vehicles/systems, and sonobuoys.
The CLT can also be mounted with up to seven AGM-176 Griffin missiles or guided munitions and tactical off-board sensors (TOBS).
The open architecture of the helicopter makes it suitable for development into a future attack and reconnaissance aircraft.
MD 969 performance
MD 969 fast attack helicopter can attain a cruise speed of 296km/h (160kt) and a maximum dash speed of 333km/h (180kt). It offers a maximum endurance of 4.3 hours.
The maximum gross take-off weight of the rotorcraft is 3,070kg, while its useful load is 1,540kg. The hover-in ground effect value (HIGE) of the helicopter is 10,650ft, while the hover-out of ground effect (HOGE) is 8,870ft.