MDHI contracted to support Afghan Cayuse Warriors

The US Department of Defense has awarded a logistics support contract to MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) to further support the Afghan Air Force’s fleet of MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack/scout helicopters.

Work on the contract, worth US$35.8m, will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, and Kabul, Afghanistan. It is expected to be completed by November 30. The US Army Contracting Command, based at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is leading the contracting activity.

MD 530F [MDHI]
A line up of Afghan Air Force MD 530Fs. MDHI

Afghanistan’s Cayuse Warriors entered operational service in April 2015, and the country is currently the largest operator of the type in the world. As of May 2020, the air arm has taken delivery of 59 examples, 41 of which are currently operational, 14 are in storage and at least four have been lost to attrition. The service is also expecting to take delivery of up to 12 more MD 530Fs.

The Afghan MD 530F fleet has both main and auxiliary ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel systems, which include self-sealing fuel tanks. Each helicopter is powered by a single Rolls-Royce 250-C30 turboshaft engine, giving it a cruising speed of 154mph (248km/h) and endurance of up to two hours. Older aircraft, known locally as ‘Jengi Warriors’ – delivered between 2011 and 2016 – feature standard cockpit and avionics systems. More recently delivered examples have been integrated with new glass cockpits and advanced technologies.

The aircraft also features DillonAero's fixed-forward sighting systems and mission-configurable armament systems (MCAS), along with ballistic armour protection. In terms of armament, Afghanistan's Cayuse Warriors are equipped with FN Herstal's HMP400 50-calibre machine gun pods and M260 seven-shot rocket pods.