Skip to comments.MD Helicopters Enters Armed Scout Contest with MD 540F
Posted on 04/09/2012 10:12:00 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
MD Helicopters Enters Armed Scout Contest with MD 540F
The field of companies offering armed scout helicopters to the U.S. Army and other militaries has grown with the addition of MD Helicopters, which is proposing the MD 540F, an upgrade of its MD 530F light helicopter, equipped with a weapons management system from Israels Elbit Systems. The offering is based on the same airframe MD Helicopters supplies to Boeing for the AH-6i, which is also a competitor for the Armys armed aerial scout (AAS) program.
Mesa, Ariz.-based MD Helicopters, the former commercial helicopter business of McDonnell Douglas, introduced the MD 540F during the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) conference this week in Nashville. CEO Lynn Tilton said it is the companys first AAAA appearance and the first new aircraft launch since her private equity firm, Patriarch Partners, acquired MD Helicopters in 2005.
MD Helicopters and Elbit teamed on the MD 540F flight display and weapons systems just three months ago, Tilton said. The aircraft flew a month later with a new six-blade rotor, and integration of Elbits weapons management system is under way. Yes, it does fly. It is not a model, it is not a mockup, and we hope that certification will be done in the first quarter of 2013, Tilton said.
The production MD 540F will feature the six-blade main rotor, compared to five blades for the 530F, upgraded Rolls-Royce 250-C30HU turboshaft with full authority digital engine control (Fadec), and heavier-duty skid landing gear to accommodate a nominal 4,000-pound max takeoff weight (900 pounds higher than the 530Fs). Elbit is providing dual multifunction displays in the cockpit and a helmet display and tracking system, enabling pilots to slew the aircrafts targeting FLIR with laser designator. Armament could include Hydra 70-mm rockets, laser-guided rockets, Hellfire missiles, 7.62-mm minigun and 50-caliber machine gun.
MD Helicopters won a contract from the Army in March 2011 to provide six MD 530Fs initially, and potentially 48 more, to train the Afghan air force. That contract was the inspiration for this aircraft, Tilton said of the 540F. We have long thought about bringing a more powerful scout helicopter to the market.
In March 2011, MD Helicopters announced a collaborative production agreement with Boeing to produce the AH-6i, an export version of the highly modified AH-6M Little Bird flown by the Armys Special Operations Command. The AH-6i (which also has a six-blade main rotor) and MD 540F are among several helicopters competing for the Armys AAS program to replace the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. Boeing is not in our market niche, theyre up there in the market with the AH-64D Apache, said Carl Schopfer, MD Helicopters COO. For us to be successful is good for them. Thats what theyve said.
MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton introduces the new MD 540F armed scout April 3 during the AAAA conference in Nashville. (Photo: Bill Carey)
Why oh why can’t Hughes/MD let go of that tiny back seat area? Same reason Bell is still flogging the Jet Ranger/206?
They both do a good job up upgrading power trains, rotor systems and avionics. Why can’t they get a decent airframe?
Look at the AS-350/355! Lots of room, flat floors, easy in or out.
The back seat area of a Jet Ranger is about like a 1967 Toyota Corolla
The AS-350 is more like a 2012 Chrysler minivan with two sliding doors.
(reality check - I’ve never flown the Hughes 500/OH-6, just climb in the cockpit & rear seat area. I do have a good bit of time in Jet Rangers and a bit in AS-350’s)
And someone on the Board of Directors needs to tell MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton that she is supposed to look like she is selling helicopters, not her body.
I flew in the Loach forerunner many times in Vietnam. Heck of a ride.
I guess times are tight when they have to get the CEO to double as a trade-show “booth babe.”
It’s amazing how much mileage they’ve gotten out of that basic design. (The helicopter, not the CEO.)
My problem is that I flew a Jet Ranger around Africa, hauling people & stuff. Ever try moving a 100 kg sack of rice which you unthinkingly set in the LEFT backseat footwell over to the Right side?
Or fitting 4 pax and enough supplies to do a medical clinic at 10,500’ into one? (can we say, “very careful sliding take-off”, children?
I hate tiny back seats/cargo areas.
As I said, my only exposure to the Hughes 500/369/OH-6 was climbing in one at an airshow or maybe a refueling stop at an Army base.
I was spoiled. In ‘Nam as an enlisted grunt, I always rode in the back of either a CH-46 or a CH-53. Later, as a USMC pilot, I flew TH-57, UH-1 E/L/N, CH-46 & CH-53. Mostly the -53.
LOTS of room to haul stuff!
I wish I’d had a chance to fly the OH-6. Friends who have, LOVE it! I just remember having to duck my head to clear the drive shaft while sitting in the middle back seat. And I’m only 5’8”.
Of course, the article was about an “Armed Scout”, so I guess that the back seat doesn’t get much use.
Is there a reason the military doesn’t go for the NOTAR (No TAil Rotor) setup?
I saw a NOTAR at an airshow once and that sucker was quiet! Almost stealthy.
Is the NOTAR not as efficient as a regular tail rotor?
CEO to double as a trade-show booth babe”.
Tilton is not only the CEO but is the outright owner of MD. So she is putting her mouth where she puts her money. You’d do the same.
Is the NOTAR not as efficient as a regular tail rotor?
From what I’ve heard the NOTAR is much easier to fly. but something new takes a lot longer to be accepted.
A couple of months ago I tracked a MD 600N (NOTAR) from Phoenix to Florida, then it jumped to the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands, and down to south America then Brazil. I thought it was a gutsy way to go, over water, but I guess they wanted to avoid Hugo Chavez.