A fully loaded AH-6 little bird

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It’s not quite an AH-6 Little Bird, it’s actually the MD540F – a heavily-updated model of the MD500 family that spawned the OH-6 Loach and its Little Bird derivatives. MD Helicopters is trying to sell it to several militaries that are interested in a light attack/scout/observation platform.

Key differences between an MH-6 are the nose – the MD540F has much smaller glazing and the protruding nose seen here. The other major difference is the doors. The Army’s Little Birds have none (while the Army does own them, the helicopters rarely fly with them installed) while the MD540F has front doors with bubbled windows and blanked-out rear doors.

Many of the enhancements from the MD540F have been brought to the MH-6 through the MELB (Mission Enhanced Little Bird) program. The low light sight/laser designator pod in the chin, as well as the six-bladed rotor and a new digital flight control system is being retrofitted to the entire Army fleet by the end of next year.

Confusingly, the MD540F is *marketed* as the AH-6, though that designation doesn’t actually exist in the US Army. All of the Little Birds are officially designated MH-6 – despite coming in two variants. The attack variant is unofficially named the AH-6, but is designated MH-6 for a multitude of reasons. Even *more* confusingly, older versions of the helicopter were designated the A/MH-6, with the proper letter used based on how they were configured. In recent years, this practice has fallen out of use.

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