Afghan MD-530F crashes in Kandahar

An MD Helicopters (MDHI) MD-530F Cayuse Warrior light attack/utility helicopter belonging to the Afghan Air Force (AAF) has been written-off after crashing in the Kandahar Province on May 10.

The aircraft – serial unknown – crashed before dawn in the Arghistan district of the Kandahar Province. While the cause of the crash has yet to be determined, the incident reportedly occurred while the platform was attempting to conduct an emergency landing. There were no fatalities as a result of the incident, although both of the onboard crew members were injured during the crash.

Afghan MD-530F [USAF/Jason Smith]
An Afghan Air Force MD530F Cayuse Warrior in flight near Kabul on August 25, 2016. USAF/Capt Jason Smith

AirForces Intelligence data states that – as of May 13, 2021 – the AAF currently maintains an active fleet of 43 MD-530F Cayuse Warriors. The type has been operational with the air arm for six years, with the first six helicopters being inducted into Afghan service on April 11, 2015.

This was not the first time Afghanistan had operated the MD-530F though, as six earlier examples – known locally as the ‘Jengi Warrior’ – served within the AAF’s ranks from September 2011 to November 2015. However, these helicopters were upgraded to Cayuse Warrior standard and returned to Afghan service in April 2015.

In total, 59 examples of the Cayuse Warrior have since been delivered to the AAF, but six aircraft have been withdrawn from use and three more MD-530Fs have been placed into long-term storage. The attrition rate of the type in Afghan service has been and continues to be high, as more than seven examples have been involved in incidents since the platform was introduced in 2015.

The AAF’s Cayuse Warrior fleet is operated from four locations across Afghanistan. The type is employed by the Rotary Wing Training Squadron at Shindand Air Base, located in the nation’s Herat Province. It is also operated by the Kabul Air Wing’s Strike Squadron from Kabul International Airport, as well as the Kandahar Air Wing’s Strike Squadron at Kandahar International Airport (which is likely the operator of the aircraft involved in this recent crash). The MD-530F is also operated by the Mazar-i-Sharif Air Wing’s Strike Squadron at Camp Marmal – an extension of the Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi International Airport in northern Afghanistan.