The US Navy has released photographs of the Unmanned Little Bird (ULB) helicopter, a smaller variant of the larger, manned A/MH-6M, can be controlled by a pilot or piloted remotely. The ULB may be used for multiple missions that may include re-supply and casualty evacuation and is capable of carrying a 300-pound payload.
The photographs are dated June 16 and are datelined in Bridgeport, California.
Boeing’s website describes the Unmanned Little Bird Demonstrator as “a modified MD 530F single-turbine helicopter designed for optionally manned flight. It won the AHS 2005 Grover E. Bell award for the best advancement in rotorcraft research that year. The platform is capable of dual pilot, single pilot or no pilot flight operations. It can be remotely operated or programmed for autonomous operations in any of these operational modes.
The ULB is designed to test new manned and unmanned technologies and capabilities. Boeing R&D utilizing the Unmanned Little Bird demonstrated a variety of missions (resupply; intelligence, reconnaissance & surveillance; weaponization) and helped to shape the VTOL UAV market through flight experimentation.
The aircraft has safely conducted more than 500 hours of UAV technology flight testing since its first flight in September 2004. It is supporting the definition and qualification of U.S. Army manned/unmanned aircraft operations. The growth unmanned variant based on the A/MH-6M aircraft is only being marketed internationally.