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While the AH-6J and MH-6J Little Birds offered enhanced capabilities in their special operations roles, they became part of a larger challenge for the 160th SOAR. The electronic systems integrated into the Little Birds, Black Hawks, and Chinooks all looked, operated, and sounded different from one another, not to mention the logistics complications that go with them. With the AH-6 Mission-Enhanced Little Birds (MELB) came a very unique engineering accomplishment - all of the 160th's aircraft now operate with the same (or very similar) avionics suite running under a common 'operating system'. Never before had different military aircraft from different manufacturers operated under a common operating system. The AH/MH-6 from Boeing/MDD, the AH/MH-60 from Sikorsky (now Lockheed Martin), and the MH-47 from Boeing/Vertol - all were integrated using some impressive engineering!
In addition to the common 'operating system', the AH-6M and MH-6M are based upon the MD-530, but with a more powerful engine, six-bladed main rotor, four-bladed tail rotor, and better performance. The pointed nose of the MD530 was replaced with the older OH-6 nose to retain its existing military airlift capabilities.
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