The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed "Loach", after the requirement acronym
LOH—Light Observation Helicopter) is a single-engine light helicopter
with a four-bladed main rotor used for personnel transpor

Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed "Loach",) "1963"

Role Light Observation Helicopter/utility
National origin United States
Manufacturer Hughes Helicopters
McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems
MD Helicopters
First flight 27 February 1963
Introduction 1966
Status In service
Primary user United States Army
Produced 1965–present
Number built 1,420 (OH-6A)
Variants MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird
MD Helicopters MD 500
McDonnell Douglas MD 500 Defender


Hughes Aircraft

Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (the "Loach",

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Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (the "Loach", "1963"

The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed “Loach“, after the requirement acronym LOH—Light Observation Helicopter) is a single-engine light helicopter with a four-bladed main rotor used for personnel transport, escort and attack missions, and observation. Hughes Helicopters also developed the Model 369 as a civilian helicopter, and the Hughes Model 500, currently produced by MD Helicopters as the MD 500.

In 1960, the United States Army issued Technical Specification 153 for a Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) capable of fulfilling various roles: personnel transport, escort and attack missions, casualty evacuation and observation. Twelve companies took part in the competition and Hughes Tool Company’s Aircraft Division submitted the Model 369. Two designs, those submitted by Fairchild-Hiller and Bell, were selected as finalists by the Army-Navy design competition board, but the U.S. Army later included the helicopter from Hughes as well.


  • The first Model 369 prototype flew on 27 February 1963. Originally designated as the YHO-6A according to the Army’s designation system, the aircraft was redesignated as the YOH-6A in 1962 when the Department of Defense created a Joint designation system for all aircraft. Five prototypes were built, fitted with a 252 shp (188 kW) Allison T63-A-5A,[2] and delivered to the U.S. Army at Fort Rucker, Alabama to compete against the other ten prototype aircraft submitted by Bell and Fairchild-Hiller. During the course of the competition, the Bell submission, the YOH-4, was eliminated as being underpowered (it used the 250 shp (186 kW) T63-A-5). The bidding for the LOH contract came down to Fairchild-Hiller and Hughes. Hughes won the competition,[3] and the Army awarded a contract for production in May 1965, with an initial order for 714 that was later increased to 1,300 with an option on another 114. Hughes‘s price was $19,860 per airframe, less engine, while Hiller’s price was $29,415 per airframe, less engine.

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Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (the "Loach", "1963")

A heavily modified pair of OH-6As were utilized by the CIA via Air America for a covert wire-tapping mission in 1972. The aircraft, dubbed 500P (penetrator) by Hughes, began as an ARPA project, codenamed “Mainstreet”, in 1968. Development included test and training flights in Culver City, California (Hughes Airport) and at Area 51 in 1971. In order to reduce their acoustic signature, the helicopters (N351X and N352X) received a four-blade ‘scissors’ style tail rotor (later incorporated into the Hughes-designed AH-64 Apache), a fifth rotor blade and reshaped rotor tips, a modified exhaust system and various performance-boosts.


Crew: 2

Capacity: 2 seated passengers or 4 on the floor with rear seats folded/removed

Length: 30 ft 3.75 in (9.2393 m) including rotors

Height: 8 ft 1.5 in (2.477 m) to top of rotor hub

Empty weight: 1,229 lb (557 kg)

Max takeoff weight: 2,700 lb (1,225 kg)

Powerplant: 1 × Allison T63-A-5A turboshaft engine, 317 shp (236 kW) de-rated to:-

Cruise speed: 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h) maximum 
116 kn (133 mph; 215 km/h) for maximum range 
Never exceed speed: 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h)
at Sea Level
Range: 330 nmi (380 mi, 610 km) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m)
Ferry range: 1,354 nmi (1,558 mi, 2,508 km) with 1,300 lb (590 kg) of fuel

Provision for packaged armament on port side, including an XM-27 7.62 mm (0.300 in) machine-gun with 2,000 – 4,000 rounds of ammunition; or an XM-75 grenade launcher

Aircrafttoaal encyclopedia

n 1964 the U.S. Department of Defense issued a memorandum directing that all U.S. Army fixed-wing aircraft be transferred to the U.S. Air Force, while the U.S. Army made the transition to rotor-wing aircraft. The U.S. Army's fixed-wing airplane, the O-1 Bird Dog, which was utilized for artillery observation and reconnaissance, would be replaced by the OH-6A helicopter