Little Birds’ Eye View: SOCOM Upgrading Their H-6 Helis
US Special Operations Command’s helicopters are some of its most important assets. The service will need new helicopters in the near future, but meanwhile, they’re busy modernizing the helicopters they have. Sensor and targeting system improvements offer a lot of operational bang for the buck, as August 2011 contracts to improve the MH-60 and MH-47 fleets show. Now FLIR Systems, Inc. in North Billerica, MA has received a sole-source $24.6 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract under FAR 6.302-1, for new production or retrofit of AN/ZSQ-3 (V1 Assault) and AN/ZSQ-3 (V2 Attack), Electro-Optic Sensor Systems with laser rangefinder/designator units. Order 0001 is for $497,092, with the rest to be awarded as requested by US SOCOM’s Technology Applications Contracting Office until Sept 22/16 (H92241-11-D-0007).
The turrets will equip the 160th SOAR’s A/H-6M “Little Birds” at Fort Campbell, KY. These MD 530 derivatives serve in versatile roles with the Night Stalkers, quickly moving special forces troops into confined areas, or acting as light helicopter gunships. They were especially useful during Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, 18 years ago today, when they flew the only close air support available to the trapped Rangers and Delta force soldiers, sometimes even landing in narrow streets. The battle is known as the “Day of the Rangers” in Somalia, but it’s best known to most Americans by the movie/book name: “Blackhawk Down“.