The Hughes OH-6 was developed from a US Army technical specification calling fir a light observation helicopter (LOH) which need to fulfil the roles of personnel transport, escort & attack, casevac and observation. The prototype first flew in 1963. The helicopter entered service in 1966 and almost immediately went to war in Vietnam. Crews soon nicknamed the helo “Loach” after the LOH acronym. Out of the 1419 built for the US Army 842 would be lost in Vietnam, mainly due to hostile ground fire.
Following the disastrous attempt to rescue the American hostages in Tehran in 1980 the US Army’s 160 Special Operations Aviation Regiment began developing a special aviation task force to prepare for what was then to be a second attempt at the rescue. They identified a need for a small helicopter to land in restrictive locations, and be transported by Air Force Transport aircraft. The OH-6A was selected for this and given the name Little bird as it was much smaller than the MH-60 & MH-47 aircraft they had. In the end there was no second rescue mission but the Army decided to keep the unit it had formed, and this would eventually become the 160th Aviation Battalion. The helicopters used for transport would become MH-6, and the armed ones AH-6.
Later when Hughes would become part of MD helicopters a newer helicopter based on the OH-6 the MD-500 would arrive. This would feature a five bladed rotor and T tail. These aircraft would be produced as version for the Special Operations teams starting with the MH-6E. This would lead later to the AH/MH-6J. This improved helo based on the MD500MG would be used for transport and attack, it features an improved engine, FLIR, and GPS/Inertial navigation. The Ah-6 can usually be seen equipped with a lightweight universal mounting platform which has two M134 mini guns and two M260 7 shot Hydra 70 rocket pods. However they can carry a variety of other weapons including Hellfire missiles, stinger missiles, 40mm grenade launchers or .50 cal machine guns. The AH/MH-6 also referred to as the Mission Enhanced Little Bird (MELB), it is a highly modified version of the MD 530 series commercial helicopter.