MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) and Robertson Fuel Systems are developing a 'next-generation' ballistic protection system for the MD 530 series of light attack and reconnaissance platforms, it was announced on 1 August.
The companies will work together to qualify the ballistic tolerant crashworthy fuel system (BTCWFS) for Model 369FF type-certified aircraft with a US Army Airworthiness Release (AWR). Model 369FF is the official nomenclature for the ‘Little Bird’-type helicopters that MDHI designates the MD 530F and MD 530G.
“Driven by an urgent requirement from our military operators, we have partnered with Robertson Fuel Systems to ensure our ballistic tolerant crashworthy fuel system exceeds all requirements for self-sealing, fuel containment, survivability and ease of installation and maintenance,” said MDHI. While the company did not name the operators, the MD 530F is currently fielded by Afghanistan, Chile, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia (training), while the MD 530G has been ordered by Malaysia.
As noted by MDHI, the BTCWFS will feature self-sealing fuel cells; crashworthy bladders compliant to MIL-DTL-27422 (the standard for crash- and ballistic-resistant fuel systems); gravity feed auxiliary fuel transfer; compatibility with the 38 gallon Little Bird Auxiliary Tank System (LBATS); accessibility for easy maintenance; and a “combat proven performance”.
MDHI has initiated an internal research and development programme for airframe provisions to support this effort and to ensure compliance with all future Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FAR 27 certification requirements for rotorcraft. The company anticipates receipt of AWR by the end of this year, with all future Foreign Military Sales of armed MD 530 aircraft including the BTCWFS as the baseline fuel system.
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