Afghanistan is to receive a further 12 MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft, to add to the 60 already delivered.
The announcement of the additional purchase on 27 November came just two days after MDHI said that it had completed deliveries of 60 helicopters that were ordered across different batches from 2011.
Under the latest procurement, which was ordered by the US Army under a wider USD1.4 billion Foreign Military Sales (FMS) effort for allied nations, the Afghan Air Force (AAF) will have 67 MD 530Fs in service taking into account battlefield losses and training accidents.
MDHI did not disclose when deliveries of the latest batch will commence and be concluded.
All MD 530Fs (known as ‘Jengi’ [Warrior] in AAF service) are equipped with a ‘glass’ cockpit (the older aircraft having been upgraded to this standard). 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’.
The helicopters 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. The E-MEP adds an option for M151 70 mm rockets and 1,536 M274 70 mm smoke rockets. The HMP has an effective range of about 1,900 m, while the 70 mm rockets allow the pilot to engage a target from more than four times this distance, at approximately 8,000 m.