MH-6J 'Little Bird'
Mission Enhancement Little Bird (MELB)
Gambit: Delta Force Rescue of Kurt Muse
of Tracy White.
The Hughes H-6
series helicopter is the US Army's primary special operations
Light attack and cargo aircraft. The Army's 160th Special
Operations Aviation Regiment's aircraft are descendants
of the Army's original OH-6 which was used as a light
scout and utility helicopter in the Vietnam War. Although
the Army's official name for the H-6 is "Cayuse" (named
after an Indian tribe that lived in the Oregon Territory),
the aircraft is almost universally known as the Little
The Special operations history of the Little Bird dates
back to the early 1980s, when after the failed rescue
attempt in Iran in 1980, the US Army began to test and
experiment with airborne special operations. Task Force
158 was formed to develop procedures and tactics; and
in doing so they chose different airframes to test and
use. One of these was the OH-6 scout aircraft, a fast
and maneuverable helicopter developed by Hughes to serve
as a light scout that could be armed with a small gatling
gun for offensive capabilities as well.
The OH-6 proved to be a stable platform and well suited
for the special operations world, being small, quite,
and having a larger load than its size would suggest.
Early models were used as "slick" troops ships but weapons
were mounted as well, so that the littlebirds could
not only provide a ride into the target but could also
supply air support for ground troops.
There are two main versions of the H-6 today, the AH-6J
attack variant and the MH-6J troop ship. The versions
used today are based on the Civilian 500/530 series
of helicopter built by Hughes and then McDonnell Douglas.
The 500/530 features a more powerful engine and can
be distinguished by its five bladed main rotor and "T"
shaped tail. This increased power and better design
allows the aircraft to carry more weight and handle
better; the MH-6 has been known to carry up to eight
soldiers outside the aircraft sitting on a specially
made plank seat that can be folded in and out of the
aircraft in seconds.
In addition to the specially built plank, the MH-6 can
be outfitted with equipment for STABO and Fastrope insertions,
and a hoist can be fitted if needed. Specially built
motorcycle racks were designed and built that allows
a MH-6 to insert or pick up two motorcycles and their
operators. The MH-6 also carries a broad array of communications
gear, including SATCOM, FM, UHF, VHF, and Motorola Saber;
all of which are capable of secure operations. A FLIR
system is available and the cockpit is compatible with
NVG's for nighttime use. In addition the aircraft is
equipped with the APR 39 radar warning receiver to warn
the crew of incoming missiles or lock-ons by enemy forces.
The AH-6 is outfitted much like the MH-6, but instead
of the plank with seats a plank for mounting weapons
is installed. Instead of the single 7.62 minigun carried
by the OH-6, two miniguns are mounted and fed by a large
magazine located in the aft cabin. 2.75" folding-fin
aerial rockets (FFAR) can also be carried in either
two 7-rocket tubes or two 19-rocket launchers. In some
special cases AGM-114 Hellfire missiles can be carried
or the Gatling guns substituted with .50-calibre heavy
machine guns or MK 19 Automatic grenade launchers.
Planned upgrades for the Little Birds have apparently
only partially happened. A new main rotor and 4-bladed
tail rotor designed to increase maneuverability and
decrease noise have not surfaced, although a newly redesigned
plank system has appeared. A newer, more powerful engine
coupled with a stronger transmission were also planned
but have not visibly appeared (although it is difficult
to see items INSIDE of aircraft so this may have already
Stalkers - Unofficial Home
Little Bird - Special Operations.Com
Little Bird - Special Operations.Com
Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)
Contingencies - MH-6s in
Operation Just Cause
Bird Fan Page - Lots of info
AH-6 "Little Bird"
-All the info you'll need
MH-6 "Little Bird"
Sikorsky Submits Bid On Major
U.S. Special Operations Command Contract
Sikorsky Names Team Members
For Bid On Major U. S. Special Operations Command Contract
some info on the OH-6, father
of today's Little Birds.
to U.S. Special Operations Aircraft
to Special Operations.Com Home Page