The Unmanned Little Bird is a variant of Boeing's MD-500 series helicopter and is designed for ISR, unmanned precision resupply, and weapons delivery. The aircraft performed 14 autonomous takeoffs and landings during 20 hours of testing from a ship in the Gulf of Mexico during flight tests in July 2012. In the fall of 2012, an unmanned Little Bird completed sea trials with the French Navy.
Official French Navy Photo.
Unmanned Little Bird Completes French Navy Sea Trials
24 October 2012 - Thales and DCNS announced the successful completion of deck landing qualifications of Boeing's H-6U unmanned "Little Bird" helicopter for France's Defense Procurement Authority (DGA). The qualifications consisted of 30 take-offs and landings at sea off Toulon from September to 4 October onboard the frigate Guépratt.
The "D2AD" automatic take off and landing system has been under development since 2008 and land trials of the system took place in New Mexico last summer. Thales was responsible the unmanned helicopter, the automatic positioning system, and its UAV interface. DCNS supplied the aircraft's harpoon system, the deck landing grid, and associated ship sensor systems. D2AD supports the French Navy's SDAM – Système de Drones Aériens de la Marine program.
H-6U Conducts deck landing qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean in July 2012. (Boeing photograph)
February 4, 2013 - Boeing Unmanned Littlebird promotional video including summer 2012 DLQ highlights.
Boeing Video of H-6U DLQs.
Video of 2011 ground trials with H-6U landing on a moving tractor trailer.
2012 - Boeing promotional video for Unmanned Little Bird.