Thehelicopter has made its first flight in its production configuration, moving the program another step closer to full-scale production, the manufacturer announced yesterday.
Thei prototype of the helicopter flew on September 16, 2009. The 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. The new helicopter has been developed primarily for export, eying specific interest from several middle-eastern countries, including , . Chile has also expressed interest in the helicopter.
On that first flightpilots 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.
“This firstflight in the production configuration takes us closer to delivering an advanced light attack and reconnaissance helicopter that meets the needs of defense forces around the world,” said AH-6 Program Director Scott Rudy. The aircraft will be produced at ’s Mesa plant in Arizona, under the terms of an existing agreement with MD s.
The AH-6i is a single-turbine helicopter that is based on the combat-proven OH-6A Cayuse. It is an advanced variant of the AH-6M helicopter operated by the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces. Boeing has also proposed to providewith an upgraded variant dubbed ‘ Phoenix’. According to Boeing, the new version incorporates advanced technologies from adapted from the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.