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Hughes OH-6 Cayuse

Light observation helicopter

OH-6 Cayuse

The OH-6 helicopter played a huge role in development of American helicopter industry

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 1966
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 9.7 m
Main rotor diameter 8.3 m
Height 2.6 m
Weight (empty) 890 kg
Weight (maximum take off) 1 610 kg
Engines and performance
Engine Allison T63-A-5A turboshaft
Engine power 317 shp
Maximum speed 295 km/h
Cruising speed 250 km/h
Service ceiling 4.87 km
Range 430 km
Armament
Other pods with Hydra 70 mm unguided rockets

 

   The teardrop-shaped Hughes OH-6 Cayuse is a compact helicopter with low drag coefficient. Nicknamed the Flying Egg it can perform fast and difficult maneuvers. It can fly near the earth, at a very low altitude and at high speed. One of the most important features is its quietness.

   The OH-6 made its first flight in 1963. The Cayuse was publicly introduced in 1966 and set several records, including record for endurance, speed and rate of climb. In 1966 it entered military service with the US Army. Many Cayuses have been exported. Since 1968 this helicopter saw combat in Vietnam. The OH-6 helicopters served in huge numbers and were used for light observation and utility roles. The Cayuse was used alongside the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, forming hunter killer teams. It could accomplish missions that bigger, slower and louder helicopters couldn’t do. Under enemy fire this nimble machine had to flew low to the ground, just above the tree-trops. Once enemy opened fire at Cayuse, they were destroyed by mighty firepower of escorting Cobras. Pilots called this helicopter as the Loach.

   Even when this helicopter was shot down, it refused to crack. In the event of a crash the tailboom and engine separate from the egg-like cabin, improving the survival chances of the crew and passengers.

   The Cayuse can be armed with various weapons, including 7.62 mm Miniguns, Mk.19 automatic grenade launchers, pods with 12.7 mm machine guns, pods with Hydra 70 mm unguided rockets, TOW and Hellfire anti-tank guided missiles. Weapon load depends on the helicopter version.

   The OH-6 has a crew of two and accommodates two more passengers. During the war in Vietnam Cayuse took many roles, including observation, personal transport, escort, causally evacuation and light attack missions. Since 1972 heavily modified helicopters were also used by the secret intelligence agency. In order to reduce noise levels even more the 4-blade rotor system was replaced by a 5-blade rotor. Exhaust systems was also modified. Two of these helicopters were deployed from the base in Southern Laos.

   After the Vietnam War Cayuse was involved in many other conflicts and missions. It was used mainly by special operation groups due to its rapid insertion and extraction capability of the troops. That’s why Cayuse gained another nickname - the killing egg. In 1980 US Army formed a 160th Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR), also called Night Stalkers, that needed a transport helicopter for special operations forces. So a new MH-6 Little Bird helicopter was introduced. It was a modified version of the OH-6 Cayuse. The MH-6 can carry up to 6 troops on external benches. It can land fast in narrow steers or even on the roofs of buildings. The MH-6 is a smaller alternative to the MH-60 helicopters. The MH-6 Little Bird is typically used by special forces.

   The OH-6 Cayuse saw action during many other military conflicts around the world. It has been used in Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Iran, Iraq and elsewhere. But the most famous operation of this helicopter was in 1993, in Somalia, during the Battle of Mogadishu between US forces and Somali militia fighters. This operation is commonly referred as the Black Hawk Down. During an intensive fight one of the MH-60 was shot down. A Little Bird helicopter landed rapidly near downed helicopter and evacuated two pilots, while another OH-6 provided fire support for the troops.

   There is also an AH-6 light attack version. It is commonly known as the Little Bird or Little Bird Guns. This helicopter can be armed with different weapons. The AH-6 is not a traditional gunship, however it can lend fire support to a covert mission. This helicopter can be also used for reconnaissance.

   Despite its age OH-6 and MH-6 helicopters are still used by the US military as such a small nimble air vehicle suits perfectly modern warfare’s demands. Especially in the urban battles. Also this helicopter played a huge role in development of American helicopter industry.

 

Zaal Tchkuaseli

   Article by ZAAL TCHKUASELI

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OH-6 Cayuse

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OH-6 Cayuse

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OH-6 Cayuse

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OH-6 Cayuse

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OH-6 Cayuse

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OH-6 Cayuse

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