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Afghanistan receives final MD 530F helos

25 November 2019
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MDHI has delivered 60 MD 530F helicopters to Afghanistan since 2011, of which 55 are understood to be in service with the Afghan Air Force. Source: 438th Air Expeditionary Wing

Afghanistan has received the last of 60 MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft that have been delivered from 2011.

The final five Cayuse Warriors, which were part of a follow-on batch of 30 helicopters ordered by the US Army under a wider USD1.4 billion Foreign Military Sales (FMS) effort for allied nations, were delivered to Kandahar via a Boeing 747 cargo aircraft on 27 October. The manufacturer announced the arrival on 24 November.

As noted by MDHI, all five helicopters have now been reassembled and are now in operational service with the Afghan Air Force (AAF). Taking battlefield losses and accidents into account, Jane's understands that the AAF has an active inventory of 55 MD 530F helicopters at its disposal. However, neither the US 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW) that trains and assists the AAF nor MDHI was able to confirm this number by the time of publication.

While early MD 530Fs (known as 'Jengi' [Warrior] in AAF service) delivered between 2011 and 2016 were equipped with standard avionics, the newer aircraft have a 'glass' cockpit (the older aircraft are likely to be upgraded to this same standard over time). 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 '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. The HMP, which is carried on external weapons planks, has a rate of fire of 1,100 rds/min and a 400-round ammunition box.

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