MD Helicopters (MDHI) and Boeing have sealed a formal arrangement to jointly offer the MH-6 Little Bird for a major US Army programme to replace the service's Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters, Boeing has confirmed.

Army leaders are understood to favour the MH-6 Mission Enhanced Little Bird, already in development for the US Special Operations Command, for the light armed reconnaissance helicopter (LARH) programme. Competition is expected from Bell as well as Europe's AgustaWestland and Eurocopter.

MDHI acquired the H-6 (MD 550) production line in Mesa, Arizona from Boeing in the late 1990s, but needed a larger partner to compete for the proposed LARH order for 368 aircraft for delivery after 2007. The LARH programme was established using some of the $14.6 billion freed by the army's decision to cancel the Sikorsky/Boeing RAH-66 Comanche in February.

However, the US Senate and House have voted to cut funds for the LARH effort in the fiscal year 2005 budget, criticising the project as premature until more details are disclosed.


Source: Flight International