The newest small-size US made attack and armed reconnaissance helicopter, the Boeing AH-6i, flew for the first time in its production configuration on 1 May 2014.
Boeing pilots flew the aircraft for less than 20-minutes at low speeds in forward, rearward and sideward flight at low elevations during a recent test. Future tests will expand the flight envelope over the next several months.
The AH-6i is a single-turbine helicopter that is based on the combat-proven OH-6A Cayuse, once designed by McDonnell Douglas. The i-version is an advanced variant of the AH-6M helicopter operated by the US Army Special Operations Forces. Party of the technology of the AH-6i comes from the more capable AH-64E Apache Guardian. Within the US Special Forces this chopper type also goes by the nickname “Little Bird”.
The new helicopter is intended to provide close-air support for land-based forces and serve as an attack platform for destroying tanks, armored vehicles and fortifications. Apart from the US Special Forces Saudi Arabia is also expecting to receive the new AH-6i, with the Arabic Kingdom being the export launch customer.