A heavily modified version of the McDonnell Douglas MD369, the MH-6 Little Bird light observation helicopter is a petite powerhouse supporting the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Nicknamed the “Killer Egg,” the MH-6 Little Bird has effectively served American interests in Grenada, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, and notably extracted Delta Force soldiers from a downed Black Hawk helicopter in the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.The Little Bird is mainly deployed with the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, nicknamed the Night Stalkers.
Despite its unassuming size, the MH-6 Little Bird can fly a group of two pilots and six fully-armed Special Forces personnel at speeds of 175 miles an hour for a combat range of 267 miles. The bubble-type glass cockpit and cabin of the Little Bird only fits the pilot and co-pilot. To carry troops, the Little Bird is outfitted with exterior fold-down benches along either side of the fuselage where 3 soldiers per bench are rigged to the aircraft. The small size of the helicopter allows for rooftop landings, touching down in narrow streets, and other clandestine quick insertion and extraction missions.
Powered by a single Rolls-Royce (Allison) 250-C30 turboshaft engine, the Little Bird is highly maneuverable and climbs at a rate of 2,061 feet a minute.The extremely versatile Little Bird heavily contributed to the much-publicized U.S. Special Forces missions to capture General Manuel Noriega, to kill Somali terrorist Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, and to rescue U.S. Army Private Jessica Lynch.
The armed variant of the MH-6, the MD Helicopters AH-6 attack helicopter, is mounted with two Dillon Aero M134 miniguns capable of shooting 3000 round magazines, one Hughes 30mm M230 single-barrel chain gun, 14 General Dynamics Hydra rockets, and two Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.
The general characteristics of the AH-6/MH-6 Little Bird are as follows:
|Crew||2 -Pilot, Co-pilot|
|Power Plant||One 425-shp Rolls-Royce (Allison) 250-C30 turboshaft engine|
|Length||32.15 ft (9.8 m)|
|Width||27.23 ft (8.30 m)|
|Height||9.84 ft (3.00 m)|
|Empty Weight||1,592 lb (722 kg)|
|Max Load Weight||3,100 lb (1,406 kg)|
|Max Speed||175 mph (282 kmh; 152 kts)|
|Max Range||267 miles (430 km)|
|Rate-of-Climb||2,061 feet per minute (628 m/min)|
|Armament||1 x 30mm M230 chaingun; 2 x 7.62mm M134 miniguns; 2 x 12.7mm GAU-19 Gatling guns; 2 x M261 7-shot rocket pods for 2.75-inch Hydra 70 rockets; 2 x AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles; 2 x TOW anti-tank missiles; 2 x Stinger short-range, air-to-air missiles|
|Avionics||AN/AAQ-16D AESOP FLIR; GPS/Inertial Navigation System; APR-39 radar warning receiver|
|Initial Year of Service||1980|