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Hughes OH-6 Cayuse Light observation helicopter

Categories: Military Helicopters
us army
Hughes OH-6 Cayuse  Light observation helicopter


Date: 2015-09-03
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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, Mk19 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 6 more 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 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.

In 2004 a Boeing AH-6 light attack version made it`s maiden flight. 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.

Variants of the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse Light observation helicopter

A TH-6B Cayuse helicopter takes off for a training flight from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland

Prototype version.
Light observation helicopter, powered by a 263 kW (317 shp) Allison T63-A5A turboshaft engine.
Experimental version.
Re-engined version, powered by a 298 kW (420 shp) Allison T63-A-720 turboshaft engine.
Proposed version, powered by a 313.32 kW (400 shp) Allison 25-C20 turboshaft engine, fitted five rotor blades.
Light observation helicopter based on the OH-6A Cayuse for the JGSDF. Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries under license in Japan.
Light observation, scout helicopter based on the Hughes Model 500D for the JGSDF. Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries under license in Japan.
Instead for discontinued OH-6D, JMSDF bought some MD 500E, named OH-6DA, for training.
Special Operations electronic warfare, command post version.
Special Operations version.
A Navy derivative of the MD-369H, six McDonnell Douglas TH-6B Conversion-in-Lieu-of-Procurement aircraft are used as an integral part of the United States Naval Test Pilot School`s test pilot training syllabus. The aircraft and associated instrumentation and avionics are used for the in-flight instruction and demonstration of flying qualities, performance and missions systems flight test techniques.
Modified OH-6A to carry weapons and operate as a light attack aircraft for the 160th SOAR(A).
Special Operations version.
For other AH-6 and MH-6 variants, see MH-6 Little Bird and Boeing AH-6.

Specifications of the Hughes OH-6 Cayuse Light observation helicopter

General characteristics

Crew: 2
Length: 30 ft 10 in – 32 ft 2 in (9.4–9.8 m)
Rotor diameter: 27 ft. 4 in (8.33 m)
Height: 8 ft 6 in – 11 ft 2 in (2.6–3.4 m)
Empty weight: 1,975 lbs (896 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 3,549 lbs (1,610 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × One Allison T63-A-5A or T63-A-700 turboshaft, 317 hp (236 kW)


Maximum speed: 152 knots (175 mph, 282 km/h)
Cruise speed: 135 knots (155 mph, 250 km/h)
Range: 232 nm (430 km (267 mi))
Service ceiling: 15,994 ft (4,875 m)
Rate of climb: 2,067 ft/min (10.5 m/s)


Guns: Two M60 or M134 Minigun 7.62 mm machine guns; Two .50 cal (12.7 mm) MG pods
Rockets: Fourteen 2.75 in (70 mm) Hydra 70 rockets in two pods
Missiles: Four TOW missiles in two pods; Four Hellfire missiles in two pods[citation

Hughes OH-6 Cayuse  Light observation helicopter Hughes OH-6 Cayuse  Light observation helicopter Hughes OH-6 Cayuse  Light observation helicopter

Date: 2015-09-03
The Source:

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