Boeing to Begin Building AH-6i Helos for Saudis

Boeing to Begin Building AH-6i Helos for Saudis

The government of Saudi Arabia is moving forward with plans to buy AH-6i helicopter gunships made by Boeing Co.

The Chicago-based aerospace company last week received a two-year, $245 million contract from the U.S. Army to buy parts and other so-called long lead items for 24 of the helicopters for the Saudis, according to the Aug. 29 announcement.

The chopper is the export version of the AH-6S that Boeing originally developed for the service’s Armed Aerial Scout program, which was designed to replace the OH-58 Kiowa and canceled last year due to automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. The AH-6S is based in part on the MH-6 Little Bird.


The kingdom in 2010 requested as many as three dozen of the AH-6is as part of a larger $26 billion foreign military sale that also included 36 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters, 72 UH-60M Black Hawk utility choppers and other military weapons and equipment, according to a 2010 notice to Congress from the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

In such a sale, the U.S. buys weapons or equipment on behalf of a foreign government. Countries approved to participate in the program may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs, according to the agency.

The helicopter agreement was among 102 contracts potentially worth $11 billion the Pentagon disclosed in the week ending Aug. 29, according to a Military​.com analysis of the daily announcements.

The three biggest defense deals were so-called multiple-award contracts, mostly for services. Under these kinds of arrangements, companies win seats on the contract, then compete against each other for individual orders.

A multi-billion-dollar contract to install new fire alarms, security systems and other utility monitoring devices at Army posts topped the weekly list of defense contracts.

The Army awarded a potentially five-year, $2.5 billion deal to three closely held firms — Johnson Controls BAS LLC, Evergreen Fire Alarms LLC and exp U.S. Services Inc. — for “utility monitoring and control” systems, according to the Aug. 25 announcement.

The winning companies edged out almost a dozen other unnamed competitors for the work, which is expected to be completed in 2019, the description states. Other contracts may be awarded under the solicitation, with funding and work locations determined by each order, it states.

A group of five companies, including FedEx Corp. and UPS, won a potentially three-year $1.8 billion award from U.S. Transportation Command to deliver packages in the U.S. and abroad, according to the Aug. 28 announcement.

“The scope of work requires the contractor to provide time-definite, door-to-door pick-up and delivery, transportation, timely and accurate in-transit visibility, third-party payment system participation and customs clearance processing,” the description states.

Perhaps those kinds of requirements could be added to another Transcom contract to better track troops’ cars as they transit from overseas to stateside posts.

A group of nine companies, including the Danish shipping giant AP Moeller — Maersk A/S, landed a potentially one-year, $1.5 billion agreement from Transcom to ship equipment and other gear to and from the war zone and other locations, according to the Aug. 28 announcement.

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Wish we had bought about 400 of them. We need a cheap, lghtly armed scout helo.

We chose to consolidate the fleet on the heavier helicopter than to have two fleets. I am unsure if that was the wisest decision, especially when the cost/flight hour begins to add up.

Didn’t Air Wolf blow up a bunch of these 30 years ago?…? Wow, a MD500 with sensors and rockets.

Blue Thunder did ! “Follow my leader” !

In general I share the assessment that more airframes of this size need to be bought, but we should all keep in mind that scouting and light arms employment are roles where drones will come to utterly dominate in the very near term.

Crewed helos in this small form factor will still be needed for other key vertical lift roles, despite drones.

The two absolutely necessary such roles being:

– Rapid impromptu short-range redeployment of small groups of infantry, much as the spec ops community does with the Little Bird right now

– Medevac dustoff, where a tiny helo can (particularly in MOUT situations) insert and extract in spots that are totally inaccessible to a Blackhawk or, worse, an Osprey

The flight dynamics of both of those roles are sufficiently challenging that it will be a while yet before a remote human operator or an onboard AI can safely fly the mission. Thus, classic crewed airframe.

Which isn’t to say that those classic airframes don’t need improvement in some ways. They could stand to have better signature management of all types: radar, thermal, acoustic. Consider the famed “Quiet One” built for the CIA in Vietnam, starting with a Hughes 500. And consider the signature-modified Pave Hawks used in the bin Laden raid. Plenty of room for improvement on existing designs.

I wonder if majr0d might object to the idea of drones and the employment of light arms if they are controlled all the way from Creech. A GCS deployed much closer would ameliorate the latency issue quite nicely. One would hope that a division would control it’s own CAS UAV’s…

Why do we buy these things FOR them? These countries could afford to by the whole company! They would buy these anyway, because they drummed up this ISIS problem and now they are sweating on what to do about it! They can stew in their own juices for all I care. I’ll probably regret saying that, but I’m just mad about the whole mess right now!

They “drummed up this ISIS problem”? You’re right, you will regret saying that. That statement was completely without merit, and shows a severe lack of knowledge or understanding of the Middle East situation. Nobody “drummed up” ISIS. They are a unique and highly dangerous group of hard-liners that are a threat to everybody, including other Muslims. The world had best wake up and deal with these people now while they are in Iraq and Syria, or we will end up dealing with them in our backyard.

“.….may obtain military hardware or services by using their own funding or money provided through U.S.-sponsored assistance programs…”

In FMS cases like this, the money is from Saudi MoD. The Army owns and manages the contract. That way, the DoD controls what goes to who. Now for Jordan, we are likely paying for the hardware, spares, ICS, and training.

Thanks Goofy 1 — I feel better already! I’m seeing reports filtering through odd places in the news media about these countries actually attacking targets in Libya for example. It is about time they started paying the piper for supporting too many crazy people, and now it is biting them in the buns!

The Army National Guard could use these

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