Hughes OH-6 Cayuse "Loach"


The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed "Loach", after the requirement acronym LOH—Light Observation Helicopter).

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The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse (nicknamed "Loach", after the requirement acronym LOH—Light Observation Helicopter).

Hughes OH-6 Cayuse "Loach"


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,[3] 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).


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In 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. The aircraft entered service in 1966, arriving in the Vietnam War thereafter. The pilots dubbed the new helicopter Loach, a word created by pronunciation of the acronym of the program that spawned the aircraft, LOH (light observation helicopter).

Hughes OH-6 Cayuse

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.

  • History

    Role Light Observation Helicopter/utility

    National origin United States

    Manufacturer Hughes Helicopters

    McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems

    MD Helicopters

  • Primary User

    First flight 27 February 1963

    Introduction 1966

    Status In service

    Primary user United States Army

  • Production

    Produced 1965–present

    Number built 1,420 (OH-6A)

    Unit cost

    US$19,860 (1966)

    Variants MD Helicopters MH-6 Little Bird

    MD Helicopters MD 500

    McDonnell Douglas MD 500 Defender


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