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First AH-6i helicopters for Thailand enter flight test ahead of delivery

A file photo of an AH-6i light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft for Saudi Arabia. Thailand is set to become the type's second customer, with the first helicopters now in flight test at Boeing's Mesa production facility in Arizona. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Boeing has begun flight-testing the first of eight AH-6i light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft recently contracted for Thailand.

Speaking to Janes on 20 June, Terry Jamison, director Vertical Lift international sales, said that all eight have either been built or are in various stages of production at the company's Mesa facility in Arizona, with flight trials of the completed airframes now under way.

“The Thailand birds are going down the production line right now. We have already flown some, which are in [the] test flight process currently,” Jamison said.

The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is acquiring the AH-6i to replace its seven ageing Bell AH-1F Cobra attack helicopters. Deliveries are due to commence later in 2024.

“That is a very capable aircraft for Thailand – this is truly a purpose-built military light attack reconnaissance aircraft, unlike some of our competitors, which have taken a commercial variant and have beefed it up, reinforced it, and modified it to meet some of the military requirements,” Jamison said, adding, “The AH-6 is purpose-built, and it is the only one that has Hellfire integrated as capability. So not only is it a light attack reconnaissance [aircraft], but it's also an anti-armour-capable aircraft. And we have taken a lot of the technologies from the Apache, particularly in the software and the cockpit interface and [drive]train and migrated those into the AH-6.”

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