MD Helicopters Inc (MDHI) has delivered its final five new-build MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack/training/scout helicopters to the Afghan Air Force. Further helicopters have also been sought for the air arm.
The US-based helicopter manufacturer announced the delivery on November 24. However, the MD 530Fs had arrived in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on October 27. The aircraft were delivered by a Boeing 747, which had departed Mesa-Gateway Airport, Mesa, Arizona, earlier that same day. The Cayuse Warriors were then unloaded, reassembled and made ready for active service within ten days.
This delivery marks the end of a 30-aircraft follow on order – worth US$1.4bn – placed by the US Army in September 2017. The delivery also means that all set requirements of the MDHI's five-year IDIQ Delivery Order 1 contract have been met, with the total number of MD 530Fs delivered to the Afghan air arm reaching 60. Deliveries began in 2011.
Lynn Tilton, CEO at MDHI, said: “The vigilant efforts of the Afghan Air Force to protect their country and their citizens from the expanse of terrorism are both noble and steadfast. Our respect for the warfighter is unwavering, and we are [honoured] that the growing MD 530F Cayuse Warrior fleet plays such an important role in the safe, effective and efficient execution of these efforts.”
On November 25, MDHI announced that the fourth IDIQ Delivery Order had been issued via the US Army Contracting Command, located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, on behalf of the Multinational Aviation Special Project Office (MASPO) for the Afghan Air Force.
The firm fixed-price award includes 12 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters for the service.
The recently delivered helicopters feature new glass cockpits, integrated with advanced technologies. Older aircraft, known locally as 'Jengi Warriors' – delivered between 2011 and 2016 – featured standard cockpits and avionics systems. 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.
The aircraft also features DillonAero's fixed-forward sighting systems and mission configurable armament systems (MCAS), along with ballistic armour protection. In terms of armaments, Afghanistan's Cayuse Warriors are equipped with FN Herstal's 400 50-calibre machine gun pods and M260 seven-shot rocket pods.
“The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior is a preferred and proven platform for light scout attack combat operations,” Tilton added. “The ongoing receipt of orders for this best-in-class aircraft is more than gratifying; it is validation that this iconic, American-made helicopter will remain an essential resource for military and paramilitary operators in the global fight for freedom.”