As Congress wrangles over the National Defense Authorization Act, which President Barack Obama has threatened to veto, one of the provisions remaining is a directive to the Secretary of Defense to lay out the way forward for U.S. Special Operations Command’s AH/MH-6 Little Bird fleet.
Under Section 142 of House bill H.R. 1735, he is directed to: “…submit to the congressional defense committees a strategy for replacing A/MH-6 Mission Enhanced Little Bird aircraft to meet the rotary-wing, light attack, reconnaissance requirements particular to special operations.”
The Little Birds have been in service for a long, long time. They’ve been continuously upgraded, of course, and will continue to be upgraded. The problem is, upgrades cost weight, and there’s only so much room for improvement before performance suffers unacceptably. That drives a strong temptation to use a bigger helicopter, but that kind of defeats the purpose of the Little Bird.
I have a suspicion the eventual replacement for the MD530 series will be another MD series, but we’ll see. For now, the Little Birds A/MH-6 are expected to stay in service for at least another decade.