Afghanistan has received the first five of 30 new MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft that were ordered 12 months ago, the manufacturer announced on 11 September.
The helicopters, which are part of a wider US Department of Defense (DoD) order for 150 MD 530F/MD 530G platforms to equip allied air arms, arrived at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan aboard a US Air Force (USAF) Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft.
As noted by MDHI, these MD 530Fs will be reassembled and tested over the next 10 days before being handed over to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) for operations alongside the 25 helicopters delivered from 2011 to 2016 (a further two delivered, but one was subsequently lost to an improvised explosive device and the other to an accident). The remaining 25 helicopters from this latest order will be delivered over the next 12 months, for a final AAF fleet of 55.
While the previously delivered MD 530Fs (known as ‘Jengi’ [Warrior] in AAF service) were equipped with a standard avionics, the new aircraft have a ‘glass’ cockpit. They also have a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system that features 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’.
All AAF MD 530Fs are fitted with the Enhanced Mission Equipment Package (EMEP). The baseline Mission Equipment Package (MEP) comprises the FN Herstal Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) that features the company's M3 12.7 mm (.50 calibre) machine gun.
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