MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) has ceased development of its MD 540A armed reconnaissance and light attack rotorcraft, in favour of offering its current MD 530F and MD 530G models and its planned MD 6XX platform instead.
Speaking to Jane's on 1 August, a company representative said that, with the already developed MD 530F and MD 530G based on the same Model 369FF 'Little Bird' airframe as the MD 540A – and with the larger 'stretched' variant MD 6XX being developed – the MD 540A is no longer required in the company's portfolio of military mission helicopters.
"The 530F and 530G are both 'commercial/marketing' monikers for aircraft built on the 369FF airframe; the 540A also started development on a 369FF airframe. Based on the current capabilities and performance profile of the F and G model scout/attack helicopters and how those profiles were developed – as per the customer-operator-mission requirements – we believe we have optimised the mission capability of the 369FF airframe. As a result, we have stopped 540A development in favour of designing and developing a new single engine platform (the MD 6XX concept helicopter) that will have much more advanced capabilities and a wider performance envelope," the representative said.
As the latest 'Little Bird' derivative, the MD 540A helicopter (formerly designated the MD 540F) was first rolled out in early 2012. The aircraft was originally intended to have been certified and ready for fielding in late 2015 to early 2016, but in January 2014 MDHI revealed that this had been postponed by approximately 12 months – to late 2016 or early 2017 – for unspecified reasons. Following this delay, MDHI told Jane's in July 2015 that it was "taking a fresh approach" to the MD 540A, and that a maiden flight would take place in late 2017.
"Building on our recent experience [of fielding the MD 530F] in Afghanistan and feedback from selected user communities, we are taking a fresh approach to the platform.
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