An AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter is parked outside Boeing’s facility in Mesa, Ariz. (Photo: Bill Carey)
The first Boeing AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter destined to serve the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG) was in the final stage of assembly this week at the manufacturer’s Mesa, Ariz. facility. Company officials expect to deliver the helicopter in mid-June.
During a press trip Boeing hosted at its Mesa production facility, reporters viewed the first SANG AH-6i, numbered 61001, which was in the last week of build, before entering flight testing. Seven AH-6is were cycling through assembly, and Boeing officials said 12 are scheduled—half of the originally planned 24 helicopters. Fuselages for the first AH-6is destined for Saudi Arabia are being provided by MD Helicopters, with sub-assembly taking place in Monterrey, Mexico.
AH-6is can be fitted with a combination of Hellfire missile and rocket launchers, miniguns and machine guns. The helicopter’s integrated, digital cockpit and mission computer were derived from the Apache.
The Defense Contract Management Agency will perform acceptance flight testing of the helicopters before turning them over to the Saudi government. Boeing expects to begin training several Saudi pilots in Mesa, as well as pilots who will serve as trainers in Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Army awarded Boeing a $234 million foreign military sales contract to supply 24 AH-6is to Saudi Arabia in August 2014. The armed, single-engine helicopters were contained in a huge weapons deal the U.S. and Saudi Arabian governments negotiated in 2010 that included Boeing F-15 fighters and AH-64E Apache attack helicopters as well as other aircraft.
Separately, Boeing was awarded a $667 million FMS contract to supply 24 AH-64E Apaches to Qatar, the Department of Defense announced on June 7. Work on the contract is expected to be completed by May 2020.
Boeing AH-6i: Details