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Boeing eyes Finland for AH-6i light attack helicopter

Seen on a demonstration flight outside of Boeing's Mesa production facility in Arizona, the AH-6i offers much of the capability of a dedicated attack helicopter but at a fraction of the cost. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Boeing sees Finland as a potential customer for its AH-6i ‘Little Bird' light attack helicopter, both as a replacement for its ageing MD Helicopters MD 500s and as a capability upgrade with its Hellfire anti-armour missiles.

Speaking to Janes on 20 June, Terry Jamison, director Vertical Lift international sales, identified the Nordic country as a strong candidate for the platform that is based on the same Hughes Model 369 airframe as the MD 500 it would be replacing in national service.

“Yes, I do [see potential in Finland]. With what is going on in Europe [with the war in Ukraine], you have to believe that an anti-armour capability has got to be a high priority for any NATO member right now on the continent, [and] the AH-6i has a fully integrated Hellfire capability,” Jamison said.

The Finnish Army operates seven MD 500D helicopters that it has fielded since 1983, and five MD 500E helicopters since 1999. Despite an upgrade programme launched in 2020, these ageing airframes are due for replacement.

Launched in 2013, the AH-6i shares many of the attributes that made the MD 500-series helicopter, including its diminutive size (the main rotor system is only 8.33 m in diameter, and from tip to tail it is only about 9.95 m in length), and a highly crash-resistant A-frame with rugged skid landing gear.

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