SOFIC 2020: USSOCOM considers Future Little Bird assault helo

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has signalled its intention to consider the fielding of a ‘Future Little Bird’ helicopter design, service officials have disclosed.

Operators from US Army’s 10th Special Forces Group conduct aviation insertion training with an AH-6 Little Bird at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Operators from US Army’s 10th Special Forces Group conduct aviation insertion training with an AH-6 Little Bird at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Addressing delegates at the virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) event on 13 May, Rotary-Wing Program Executive Officer (PEO) Geoffrey Downer presented the USSOCOM’s ‘SOF Rotary-Wing Platform Roadmap’, which illustrated a Future Little Bird concept.

According to the roadmap, the capability would follow more immediate upgrades of the light attack/assault MD Helicopters A/MH-6 Mission Enhanced Little Birds (MELBs) which include Blocks 2.2, 3.0, and potentially 3.1 depending upon decisions taken by the Tampa-based organisation to adopt the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) helicopters.

Block 2.2 upgrades will be focused on crew safety enhancements, while Block 3.0 upgrades will further enhance safety margins, flight controls, and the cockpit, Downer confirmed.

According to the roadmap, Future Little Bird remains one option for USSOCOM’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment in the 2025–34 timeframe. Alternative courses of action include maintaining a smaller fleet of Little Birds, and the adoption of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), which could also augment or replace attack/assault Sikorsky MH-60M Black Hawks.

Speaking to Janes , Downer explained, “Right now [Future Little Bird] is just a mark out in the future. With us recapitalising our airframes, we expect to fly with our Block 3 aircraft for quite a while here, at least for the next 10 to 15 years.

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The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has signalled its intention to consider the fielding of ...

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