Six MD 530 Little Bird helicopters delivered to Lebanon aboard a chartered cargo aircraft. (Lebanese Army)
Lebanon has received six MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530 ‘Little Bird' scout and light-attack rotorcraft from the United States.
The delivery of the helicopters aboard a chartered cargo aircraft was announced on the official website of the Lebanese Army on 6 October.
“At Beirut Airbase, the Lebanese Army received Six MD 530F helicopters donated by the United States, in the presence of a number of officer and members of the Defense Cooperation Office of the US Embassy in Lebanon,” the announcement said.
The six MD 530s that were contracted in late 2018 are part of a wider USD120 million arms package from the US announced in 2017. They were supposed to have been delivered by the end of September 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have played a major part in the delay to this timeline.
As previously disclosed, Lebanon's helicopters are fitted with a full ‘glass' cockpit and a four-station weapons plank. Other items comprise the Moog Weapons Stores Management System (SMS), the DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS), 7.62 mm ballistic armour protection; FN Herstal 12.7 mm Heavy Machine Gun Pod (HMP) 400 systems, M260 seven-shot pods for 70 mm unguided rockets and BAE Systems' Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) guided rockets, and an MX-10D EO/IR sensor and Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted sighting system. They will also feature the Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR multichannel airborne networking radios with advanced encryption standards.
Lebanon is procuring the MD 530 to better defend its porous border with Syria at the same time as affirming the Lebanese Armed Force as the “sole defender” of the country, as previously described by the US Embassy in Beirut.